A Pune-based journalist with a private news channel succumbed to the coronavirus Wednesday after a private hospital in Ahmednagar allegedly delayed his treatment over advance payment. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has ordered a probe in the journalist’s death.
Pandurang Raikar, 42, was brought to Pune’s Jumbo Hospital at COEP from Ahmendgar on Tuesday evening. He passed away early Wednesday morning after his saturation level dipped drastically.
Raikar, a journalist for 14 years, is survived by his wife and two kids. He was a reporter with TV9 channel in Pune.
His family and friends alleged that the hospital delayed admitting him unless he made an advance payment of Rs 40,000.
According to Kunal Jaykar, a close relative, the journalist had undergone a swab test in Pune two days after Ganesh installation on August 22. “The test was negative. He then decided to take rest and return to Ahmednagar, his home town,” he said.
But on Saturday and Sunday (August 29-30), he felt unwell. “On Monday, he went to a private hospital in Ahmednagar which asked him to get a COVID test done. The hospital said it cannot conduct the test as it had run out of kits,” Kunal said.
The journalist then rushed to a COVID Care Centre located a few kilometers away from Kopargaon city. “Here, they conducted a rapid antigen test which confirmed him to be COVID positive,” Kunal said.
The journalist and his wife then went to the private hospital in Ahmednagar. “All this while, Pandurang was feeling uneasy and breathless and required urgent hospital admission. However, the hospital refused to admit him. They asked him to pay Rs 40,000 as advance fees. They told him that it will take a time to make the payment as other patients were in the queue,” Kunal said.
Kunal said it was only after the intervention of the district collector and the tehsildar, the journalist was admitted by the private hospital. “However, it took nearly two hours for admission. Even as his condition was deteriorating, he was not given any treatment or any medicine by the hospital,” he alleged, adding had he received timely treatment, Pandurang would have survived.
Kunal said Pandurang’s condition deteriorated even after he was admitted to the hospital. It was then his family decided to shift him to Pune on Tuesday afternoon. “He was brought to the Jumbo Hospital in Pune in a cardiac ambulance around 8.30 pm. He passed away this morning,” he said.
When contacted, Ahmednagar district collector Rahul Dwivedi said, “As soon as I got the information, I directed the hospital to immediately admit the patient. As for the allegations from the family regarding demand for advance payment, we are looking into it.”
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