The coronavirus pandemic has turned the life a 33-year-old resident of Muchipara area, Kolkata, upside down since April 26. The disease not only snuffed out the life of his 70-year-old mother, but also denied him the space and time to mourn the loss of his loved one.
All hell let loose on April 24, when the private tutor’s mother, who was suffering from a chronic lung disease, had fallen critically ill. He had to run from pillar to post to get his mother admitted to a hospital.
Finally, when doctors suspected her to be a COVID-19 patient, she was admitted to the isolation ward at NRS hospital. As per rule, the family members were not allowed to meet her.
“After her admission to the hospital ward, we could not catch a glimpse of her even once. We could not also participate in her last rites,” the private tutor said on condition of anonymity.
Adding insult to injury, after his mother’s death on April 26, he had been getting multiple calls from the Health Department asking about her health’s progress.
On April 24, when she complained of breathing trouble, the family members did not get alarmed as it was her common problem.
“We have all the required arrangements, such as nebuliser and BiPAP (electronic breathing device) at home. But that day, her problem was so severe that we took her to GD Hospital on Lenin Sarani. The hospital authorities referred her to MR Bangur hospital or Beliaghata ID hospital,” he said.
The family members were asked to do the same when they took her to SSKM hospital.
“We came back home that night. Next morning my mother’s oxygen level dipped. I tried to call an ambulance, but did not get one till 5 pm. With the help of my friends, I shifted her to NRS,” he said. After providing initial treatment, the authorities asked them to take her to Bangur hospital as they lacked necessary equipment.
“We took her to MR Bangur hospital. However, the on-duty doctor said they did not have the required medicines or instrument. He suggested us to shift her to NRS again as she was susceptible to coronavirus in Bangur,” he said.
The authorities of Bangur hospital could not be contacted.
So, they finally got her admitted to the isolation ward at NRS hospital.
“No body from the hospital helped us to carry my mother to the ward or bed. We did everything on our own,” he added.
On April 25, when he went to visit his mother, a doctor informed him that she had died just a while ago. “I was asked to come again the next morning with her Aadhaar card. He told me that COVID-19 test will be conducted on her,” he said.
On April 28, the Health Department told him that his mother had tested positive for coronavirus, but refused to give any further information.
However, he got a call from the Health Department that asked him to remain in home quarantine for at least 14 days and added that the family members would have to undergo COVID-19 test. “But till date, no one from the government came to get our samples,” he said.
However, he was still at a loss that how his mother could have contracted the disease as she never used to step out of home. He believed that his mother had got infected during her stay at the hospital.
“My mother was a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patient for the last 10 to 12 years. Since she weighed 157 kg, she never used to step out of the house,” he said.
On May 2, he got a call from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation informing that his mother had been cremated on April 29.
“I was asked to go Peace World, a mortuary, with our Adhaar cards to collect her death certificate. When I said, I did not have any document from the hospital, I was told that it was not required,” he said, adding “After all this, an official called me today in the morning enquiring about my mother’s condition.”
Tarun Kumar Pathak, superintendent of NRS hospital, said, “There are a lot of rules and regulations that the family members of COVID-19 patients need to abide by. If a patient dies, we cannot do anything. The family can approach the Health Department. But if a family submits any complaint to us, then we can look into the matter.”
“I believe my mother contracted the infection from the hospital. We have been advised to undergo COVID-19 test, but nobody from the government has come to us for our samples.”
A senior health department official said, “We are testing according to ICMR guidelines. If he or his friends fulfil that guideline, they will be tested.”
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