A day after a 67-year-old man died after being denied hospitalisation at Holy Family hospital, a Dharavi family recounted a similar harrowing experience to get a 62-year-old diabetic member hospitalised. After reaching out to five hospitals, the senior citizen died early May 10 in Sion hospital’s emergency ward.
“I saw my father take a last long breath, and he collapsed,” his son, who now remains in a quarantine centre, said.
While Mumbai is in the process of adding over 3,300 beds to its existing 4,800 beds to treat critical and moderately ill Covid-19 patients, the current problem lies not in shortage of beds but demand for hospitals from families to first get a Covid-19 test done before a patient is admitted. By the time a test is conducted and the report comes, several patients die.
The Dharavi resident first developed symptoms on May 6 and his son took him to a local doctor. “His temperature was normal, so the doctor said he didn’t suspect it was Covid-19. He gave some medicines,” the son said.
Within a day, the man’s health worsened. His blood test came positive for typhoid, and he was put on intravenous saline. “I visited Nagree nursing home, they said they did not admit patients without a Covid-19 test. I went to Sai hospital, but it has been converted into a quarantine centre,” the son said.
On May 9, the man underwent a Covid-19 test. The son then reached out to Lilavati hospital, PD Hinduja hospital and Nanavati hospital, which informed that they did not have vacant beds.
On May 10, around 1.30 am, the man started gasping for breath. “I rushed him to Sion hospital… there was no stretcher. For 10 minutes I waited, then I myself went looking and got a wheelchair for him. In the emergency ward, nobody had time, I wheeled my father from one counter to another. Someone gave me a form to fill even as my father was gasping for breath,” the son said.
Within half an hour of arrival in Sion hospital, his father died. “He passed away while his ECG was being conducted,” he said.
On May 11, the Covid-19 test result came positive. The next day, the family got themselves admitted in Manohar Joshi quarantine centre in Dharavi. The area where they live has several infected people, the son said, and suspect the infection was transmitted locally.
While his mother and uncle have tested positive, his brother has symptoms but is yet to be tested. The family said the doctor at the quarantine centre has claimed he had no testing kits left and thus, could not conduct tests. “He asked us to contact BMC,” the son said.
When contacted, Dharavi Assistant Ward Commissioner Kiran Dighavkar said he will look into the matter. “If a high-risk person is symptomatic, he is tested immediately. But those who are asymptomatic are tested between fifth and 14th day of exposure. We have no shortage of kits.”
Meanwhile, the 67-year-old who died on Wednesday after he was refused admission in Holy Family hospital five times, tested positive on Friday. While protocol mandates that those who succumb to Covid-19, their bodies should be sealed, both families were handed over the bodies without following this norm. In both cases, the families touched the bodies before cremating them.