March 27, 2021 4:15:42 am
“I can never forget the horror of last night. I had to drag my husband like some dead animal through a dark corridor,” said Madhuri Godhwani (67), a Covid-19 patient who survived the fire mishap at Sunrise hospital on Friday. For Madhuri and Chetan Godhwani (78), the escape from fire was followed by four gruelling hours to get a hospital bed in the middle of the night.
The couple, both Covid-19 positive, were admitted to Sunrise hospital at 6 pm on Thursday, and were in a private room. At 11 pm, Madhuri saw smoke entering the room. Chetan was on oxygen support and too weak to move. “I called for help but there was no response. There was no light in the corridor. A ward boy asked me to run and pointed in one direction and left. I kept crying out for help for my husband,” she said.
She knew her husband could not walk and smoke was enveloping their room fast, so she dragged him through the dark corridor. “I found a young woman who was helping two elderly people escape, so I dragged my husband and followed them. The lift was working on backup power, I think. We took the lift till the first floor and then came down the stairway,” she said.
When the couple reached the road, there was chaos. “While rushing out, my husband’s saline tube snapped and his hand started bleeding. I called my son and we waited for him to come,” she said.
Their son, Lalit Godhwani, said he had admitted his parents and left Sunrise hospital at 10 pm. Close to midnight, his mother called him and told him about the fire. When Godhwani reached the hospital from Ghodbunder, he saw his father’s hand bleeding and mother crying on road. “No ambulance was available. I called a private ambulance which charged us Rs 8,000. We tried multiple hospitals, but they said they had no beds. I even tried the T-Ward helpline number. We went to Bhandup Criticare Hospital, but they too denied admission. Finally, by 4 am, we reached Viraj hospital in Thane,” Godhwani said.
The family had paid a lakh in advance to Sunrise hospital and are now borrowing money for further treatment. “We have no money left. I have requested my company to pay my salary in advance. Sunrise has not reached out to us nor responded to our calls,” Godhwani said.
The Godhwanis are now admitted in intensive care unit of Viraj hospital. An official from Viraj hospital said the couple were brought in an ambulance by their family. “They came on their own after visiting multiple hospitals,” an official said.
Vibhas Achrekar, assistant commissioner in the S-Ward, said those who cannot afford will be accommodated in jumbo centres. “We had our ambulances ready outside hospitals. There was so much panic, so a few patients decided to leave on their own,” he said. Dr Vikas Mohkar, medical officer in S-Ward, said the BMC had activated ambulances to transfer patients to other hospitals. “We did not have a list of patients who were admitted in hospitals. It was difficult to keep a track of them all at night,” he said.
In Mulund jumbo centre, dean Dr Pradeep Angre said with the transfer of 30 patients from Sunrise hospital to their facility, their ICUs are full. “Of four persons who required ICU, we could accommodate two. The other two were adjusted on a step-down ICU and we gave them oxygen support. We plan to transfer critical patients to other facility,” he said.
Dr Hafeez Rehman, CEO in Sunrise hospital, said their staff managed to save as many lives as possible by gathering people at the assembly point or refuge area from where evacuation was easy. “The entire fire system is in place at our hospital. There is no violation in fire safety norms,” he claimed.
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