The authorities at Ludhiana’s Fortis Hospital have alleged that District Mandi Officer (DMO) Jasbir Kaur (57), who is being treated there for COVID-19, has been throwing “VIP tantrums”. The hospital claimed that apart from demanding a “special diet plan and television”, the officer “recorded videos and clicked photos of hospital staff, medicines, ward” and sent it to her family on WhatsApp.
“Her family tried to instruct hospital staff on treatment that should be given to her via video call,” the hospital alleged, adding that family even took the matter to Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) to get her phone back after it was taken away from her. Speaking to The Indian Express, the officer’s daughter Navdeep Kaur, who is a Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO), refuted these allegations.
She said that her mother was being treated “inhumanely”. “Yes, I complained to CMO and health minister to get her phone back,” she said.
Phone of deceased ACP’s wife also taken away
The issue snowballed after the hospital authorities allegedly took away the smartphones of DMO Jasbir Kaur and Palak Kohli, wife of deceased Ludhiana ACP, who is also admitted in the same ward. The ACP had died battling coronavirus Sunday. Hospital authorities said that ACP’s wife’s smartphone was also taken because of DMO’s “irresponsible behaviour”, adding that Palak Kohli was “cooperative”. However, both patients were given back their smartphones Tuesday evening after the matter reportedly reached Punjab Health Minister.
Health minister intervenes
Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said: “If DMO shot any objectionable video or photo, then it is wrong, but otherwise it not an issue if she sent her own videos to the family for passing away time,” he said, adding, “Diet being given to her has to be decided by professional dietician, not family. She will be given what is healthy for her(DMO)…All patients in all hospitals, including government and private, are having access to phones and speaking to families. If there will be any complaint further we will look into it.”
What the hospital says
Speaking to The Indian Express, Dr Shally Deora, medical superintendent (MS) Fortis Hospital, Ludhiana, said that DMO Jasbir Kaur “clicked photos of medicines, isolation ward area and even our hospital staff and sent them to her family. Her family was instructing our staff on video call on what treatment should be given to her. This is why we took her smartphone and since ACP Kohli’s wife is also admitted in same ward, we had to take away her phone too because of DMO’s irresponsible behavior. ACP’s wife was cooperative though. However, we provided them tabs to make video calls to their families”. About the family’s allegations over diet, she added: “We had put coronavirus positive patients on soft diet for some days…but after their demand we have now arranged eggs, fruits etc. They were not satisfied with what our dietician’s menu. The patient is being shifted to a special room now with television facility.”
Immense pressure on us: Hospital
Deora said: “They have even taken the matter to CMO from where we are being pressed to provide these facilities. There has been immense pressure on us. We are now shifting DMO and ACP’s wife to the special room with TV.”
No problem with hospital: ACP’s family
After ACP’s wife’s phone was also taken away, the matter reached Ludhiana police commissioner too, who also intervened. Sunil Kohli, brother of late ACP, said to The Indian Express, “Palak did not share any photos and videos and we were told that her phone was taken because another patient in same ward did so. Palak is under such trauma that she hasn’t even seen her dead husband for the last time. We are disturbed over some wrong reports saying that she attended her husband’s cremation….We do not have any issues at the hospital.”
Mother under stress: DMO’s daughter
DMO’s daughter Navdeep Kaur told The Indian Express: “My mother is 57 and she is in deep stress. She will not demand pizza to eat. All we asked was proper diet for her because coronavirus patients can recover only if they get proper diet. They were serving her daliya/khichdi on daily basis and it is then that my mother asked hospital dietician to change her menu. She only asked for dal/roti and even then she was given stale roti and cold tea. Hospital is trying to cover its own loopholes. They aren’t even giving her milk and coconut water.”
Navdeep denied allegation of videos being shared and said that her mother only told the family about the treatment being given to her. “She did not share any photos or videos of hospital staff, medicines etc. She was just telling us about things such as drip, injections,” she said, adding that the hospital “took away her phone around 11 am Monday and returned it at 6 pm on Tuesday…All these hours when she wasn’t in touch with family, my mother might have suffered a heart attack. She was harassed. Hospital said we should provide her a simple key button phone, but we refused.” However, she added: “Yes, they gave tabs to make a video call but for just 2-3 minutes with a nurse standing on the head.”
The BDPO said that she complained to health minister, CMO and police after everything ‘crossed a limit’, adding the family or the patient had not made any demand for television. “My mother got infected in line of duty. She had the option of sitting at home and doing her work. She can’t be treated this way,” she said.
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