Updated: April 28, 2021 11:47:17 pm
Instead of carrying two bodies in a hearse van to the crematorium as per protocol, 22 bodies were piled up and carried for last rites in Ambejogai area of Beed district. After preliminary findings pointed out that government hospital staff was responsible for flouting norms, the Beed district collectorate has ordered a probe to fix responsibility and avoid such incidents in future.
The 22 bodies crammed into the hearse van were carried from the 518-bed Swami Ramanand Teerth hospital, a government hospital located in Ambejogai, to the crematorium, located at a distance of around 10 km.
“Only two bodies at one time should have been carried to the crematorium. On Sunday, 22 bodies were carried from the hospital to the crematorium… the hospital staff has flouted protocol,” said district collector Ravindra Jagtap on Wednesday, adding that he had already ordered a probe into the matter.
“We have directed the hospital to ensure that such incidents do not occur in future,” he added.
Jagtap said every day the death toll was rising and, in one day, the hospital was saddled with 22 bodies. “The number of deaths is on the rise for some days now. As a result, on Sunday, 22 bodies got accumulated. The hospital staff should have taken two bodies at once and made repeat trips. We have been told that the hospital did not have sufficient staff at that moment. But this should not be an excuse to cram all bodies at once,” he said.
The hospital administration has, however, contended that it had informed the district administration about shortage of hearse vans to carry bodies to the crematorium and ambulances to ferry patients. “During the first Covid wave, we received four hearse vans and one ambulance from the district administration. However, after the cases dropped in January and December, the administration withdrew some vehicles. So, we are now left with only two hearse vans and one ambulance. Therefore, we had written to the district administration seeking additional vehicles,” said hospital dean Dr Shivaji Sukre.
Dr Sukre said he would not comment on what exactly happened until the committee report arrived. “We had appointed a committee to probe the incident. The committee is trying to find out what happened, as to how many vehicles were available and whether all bodies were crammed together. Until the committee report arrives, I will not comment,” he said.
Jagtap, however, said, “The hospital dean should have called up and conveyed the requirement regarding ambulances and hearse vans. We could have made the vehicles available in no time. Instead of writing letters, they could have contacted me over the phone,” he said.
Jagtap also said the hospital could have taken the help of an NGO that provides ambulance service to ferry bodies to the crematorium.
Deputy collector Sharad Zadke said, “On that day, the hospital did not have adequate staff… The in-charge for disposing of bodies took the decision to take them at one go… By doing so, the hospital staff has clearly flouted the norm. There was no reason for them to cram all bodies.”
Zadke said the hospital administration had been told to carry only two bodies at one time. “The administration has been told to strictly follow protocol. Not more than two bodies should be carried at one time,” he said.
Beed zilla parishad president S Shirsat said, “Beed has witnessed a surge in Covid cases, especially in rural areas, and hospitals have not been able to handle it due to inadequate number of doctors and other medical staff besides infrastructure.”
Jagtap further said cases were on the rise but the situation was under control. “In rural areas, there are more cases now in the second wave. This was not so in the first wave… We are managing the situation with the available medical staff and infrastructure.
Dr Sukre said they had one or two deaths in February. “However, now deaths have increased up to 14 a day. This is because many patients are coming in late for treatment. Some private hospitals also refer patients to us when they cannot handle them,” he said.
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