In spite of claims by Pune district authorities that there is no shortage of oxygenated beds or ventilator beds in ICUs in Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad, a resident of Aundh Road had to knock on the doors of at least 10 hospitals in a span of 24 hours before he received admission in the ICU of Ruby Hall Clinic. The family of the patient, who had symptoms of Covid-19 including fever, cough, fatigue and breathlessness, ran from pillar to post but were turned away from several private hospitals, which claimed that they had no ventilator bed available in ICU.
In a letter sent to District Collector Naval Kishore Ram on Wednesday, 51-year Kutubuddin Shaikh, an engineer, has demanded a probe into his plight. “I was a suspected Covid-19 patient when my family went looking for beds in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad hospitals. More than 10 hospitals said they had neither an oxygen bed nor a ventilator bed available. The district collector should put the facts before Pune residents on whether there is a shortage of oxygenated beds or ventilator beds… I want the collector to order a probe,” stated Shaikh in the letter.
Ram said he will order an investigation as to why Shaikh was turned away from so many hospitals. “This should not have happened. We need to probe this thoroughly and set up an effective mechanism,” he said.
While Shaikh initially tested negative for Covid-19 on July 13, he tested positive two days later.
Shaikh, a diabetic, said he had fever and cough for two to three days and was recieving treatment at a local clinic in Aundh. “My family took me to the PMC hospital in Bopodi on July 13, where they apparently conducted a rapid antigen test on me. I tested negative. But the same evening, I was finding it difficult to breathe, and my family took me to AIIMS Hospital in Aundh. The hospital administration said they had no vacant beds in ICU…,” he wrote in the letter.
Shaikh added,”Then my nephew took me Shaswat Hospital, Aundh. The doctor asked me to undergo some tests and come back the next day. But they refused to admit me. My elder brother and my nephew then took me to Makan Hospital, Aundh, in the night… the doctors said… sorry we can’t do anything, you please go to Medipoint Hospital, Aundh.”
We went to Medipoint Hospital. As usual, the doctors asked me my symptoms… they took my chest X-ray. After that they told me… sorry, we cannot admit you. From there, my elder brother, my nephew and other relatives decided that we will go to D Y Patil Hospital, Pimpri, which was at least eight km away. … That night, my family members were praying for me, right from small children to the elderly. My younger brother’s family friend, advocate Sushil Mancharkar, was constantly in touch with us throughout the night and was trying very hard to get a ventilator bed for me by contacting his sources and hospitals.”
Shaikh’s younger brother Sameer said,”At D Y Patil Hospital, Pimpri, the doctors were very supportive. They admitted my brother in the casualty ward and put him on oxygen support. They told me that my brother needed a ventilator bed and I should look for a facility with one. That night, I went to several hospitals such as Aditya Birla, Niramaye Kavade Nursing Home and Star Hospital, Akurdi. I must have gone to 10 hospitals. At each hospital, I was told there were no ventilator beds available. ”
According to him, the next day morning, doctors at D Y Patil Hospital said they can’t admit Shaikh, who needed ventilator support and high-flow oxygen as he couldn’t breathe on his own.
Dr Hanumant Chavan, medical superintendent of D Y Patil Hospital, said,”It is a fact that we do not have vacant ventilator beds in ICU. Our ICU is constantly full. This is the condition in every hospital in Pune…the hospitals can’t be blamed for turning away patients for non-availability of ventilator beds.”
The Shaikh family then got to know about an available bed in Jehnagir Hospital ICU. “From D Y Patil Hospital to Jehangir Hospital, we travelled for nearly 15 km. Much to our shock, the doctor there told us that they don’t have any ventilator beds available. From Jehangir, we came back to Lokmanya Hospital in Chinchwad, more than 15 km away. Here too, the same story was repeated. At Lokmanya Hospital, my brother’s condition worsened. He fell unconscious…this terrified me. ”
Shaikh told The Indian Express,”The whole night I had not eaten anything and was only on water. I had no strength. I had high fever, cough and was finding it difficult to breathe. The continuous travelling took a toll on me and I collapsed at Lokmanya Hospital…”.
By the afternoon of July 14, Sameer said,”Yogesh Pillay, a hockey player and friend, contacted Ruby Hall Clinic. At 6 pm, my brother was admitted to Ruby Hall’s casualty ward and then shifted to ICU in the night.”
Shaikh tested postive for Covid-19 on July 15. “I was in the ICU for one week, I had pnuemonia and was discharged last Friday…. Thanks to my relatives, friends, my company and thanks to Allah. This is really a second life for me.”
“I would like to bring to the notice of the district collector that the conditions in hospitals are horrible, patients are dying because of lack of proper medical facilities, there is no planning, no adequate number of ventilator or oxygen beds. We keep hearing that there are adequate ventilators and oxygen beds but this is not true…,” he added.
Shaikh told The Indian Express, “During this difficult time, I learnt that a patient should not delay seeking proper treatment. The moment we start showing symptoms, we should consult doctors in a major hospital.”
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