Pandurang Raikar, a reporter with TV9 channel who often highlighted the struggle faced by Covid patients in getting proper treatment, succumbed to the novel coronavirus in Pune on Wednesday morning, allegedly due to delayed treatment. He was 42 and his survived by his wife, two children and parents.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has ordered a probe into Raikar’s death. According to Kunal Jaykar, a close relative, the journalist had undergone a swab test in Pune on August 20. “The test was negative. He then decided to return to Ahmednagar, his hometown,” said Jaykar.
But later, Raikar started feeling unwell, and came down with fever and cold. “… He went to a private hospital in Ahmednagar, which asked him to get a Covid test done. The hospital said it couldn’t conduct the test as it had run out of kits,” said Jaykar.
The journalist then rushed to a Covid Care Centre located a few km away. “Here, they conducted a rapid antigen test, which confirmed that he was Covid positive,” said Jaykar.
Raikar and his wife then went to a private hospital in Ahmednagar. “All this while, he was feeling uneasy and breathless and required urgent hospitalisation. However, the hospital refused to admit him and asked him to pay Rs 40,000 as advance fees…,” Jaykar said.
It was only after the district collector and the tehsildar intervened in the matter that Raikar was admitted by the private hospital. “However, it took nearly two hours to get him admitted. His condition was deteriorating, but he was not given any treatment or any medicine by the hospital,” alleged Jaykar.
Even after his admission, there was no improvement in Raikar ‘s condition, and the family decided to shift him to Pune. “He was brought to the jumbo hospital in Pune in a cardiac ambulance around 8.30 pm,” said ABP Majha reporter Mandar Gonjari.
On Monday, in a bid to ensure better treatment for Raikar, a team of TV journalists tried to get him a bed in a private hospital in Pune city. “The entire day, we searched for a bed for him… but failed to find one. On Tuesday, we finally found a bed at Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital,” said Gonjari.
Gonjari said he and other journalists got in touch with a cardiac ambulance, whose driver told them that he will arrive by 8 pm. “However, he arrived only at 10.30 pm, but the cardiac ambulance had no ventilator facility. Another cardiac ambulance was called, but it had no doctors. Since no ambulance was available, the jumbo hospital refused to discharge him,” said Gonjari. Finally, they managed to find a cardiac ambulance with all facilities at 4. 30 am, but by that time, it was too late.
“The ambulance arrived… but Raikar had passed away by then,” said Gonjari.
Sujit Petkar, director of Life, which runs the jumbo hospital facility at COEP grounds, said, “As soon as Raikar was brought to our facility, we had put him on non-invasive ventilator and his condition was stabilised. His family wanted to shift him to another hospital, but the cardiac ambulances either had no ventilator or doctors. Our doctors made all possible efforts to save his life but his oxygen level had dipped drastically.’
Ashwini Satav, another TV9 journalist, said,”In a city like Pune, we failed to find a bed as well as an ambulance for Raikar, who had, for the last five months, relentlessly covered the Covid beat in Pune and highlighted the nightmare faced by Covid patients in getting oxygen or ventilator beds. He had even texted various officers to shift him to another hospital.”
Pandurang Raikar had been a journalist for 14 years, and had earlier worked with ABP Majha.
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