A 33-year-old woman, who was admitted to the jumbo Covid facility in Pune in the last week of August, has “gone missing” from the facility. While authorities have claimed that she was discharged days ago, her family members say that they found out she was missing only on September 13, when they were asked to come pick her up from the centre. Police are currently probing a missing complaint registered by the family on September 14.
Family members of the woman and some social outfits held a protest outside the jumbo facility on CoEP Ground in Pune on Thursday, demanding action against authorities who, they allege, are responsible for the “disappearance” of the woman. Her family members have alleged that hospital authorities initially gave them various answers about her date of discharge, and have now said that she was discharged on September 5. The family, which is desperately looking for her, has sought to know that if she was discharged on September 5, whey were they asked to come pick her up only on September 13.
The woman, who is separated from her husband, has a five-year-old son. She has been living with her mother and father, who works at a roadside eatery at Hadapsar.
Speaking to The Indian Express, her cousin said, “On August 28, she had a fever. Her mother took her to Sassoon General Hospital the next day, where she was tested and was asked to get admitted to the jumbo hospital. After completing all the formalities, she was admitted at the jumbo facility in the early hours of August 30. Later, on the same day, her mother got a call that the patient was refusing to accept treatment and they should take her back home. When her mother went to the facility, she was initially told that the patient could not be found but later, she was told that the patient had accepted treatment. Her mother was told to go back home and come back after 14 days. On the following days, the family could not contact her directly as electronic devices were not allowed at the facility. But the family was informed on two occasions that the patient was doing well.”
“On September 13, her mother got a call asking family members to come pick her up. When her mother went there, she was told the patient was not in her bed and they asked her to come back the next day. When her mother told me this, I sensed something was wrong and we all went to the facility on the night of September 13. Initially, they showed us a record which said the date of her admission was September 12. Then, a doctor who recognised her mother said that the patient had been discharged four days ago, which would be September 9. But a nurse present there said that the patient had left the facility on September 1 after fighting with the staff. And now, finally, the centre authorities are saying that she was discharged on September 5. We then approached the police with a missing complaint. What kind of a system is this which gives four different answers? Her family and her son are desperately waiting for her. We want to ask, if she was discharged on September 5, why were we called on September 13,” said her cousin.
The family members also demanded to see CCTV footage from the day of the discharge, but were told by authorities that the agency which earlier operated the facility had it.
Inspector Manisha Zende of Shivajinagar police station, where the case has been registered, said, “On the day the missing complaint was registered, we sought the documents pertaining to the patient’s admission and discharge, as well as access to the security camera footage. The agency that operated the facility said they were not authorised give police anything. We then approached the PMC (which is in charge of the facility). We didn’t receive any documents for some time and reminded the civic body two days ago. We have not received anything as on Thursday evening. We have launched a probe after receiving the complaint and have circulated the woman’s photo to other police stations.”
Municipal Commissioner Vikram Kumar said the patient was discharged from the hospital a long time ago and the civic body doesn’t know the whereabouts of the patient after her discharge.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Rubal Agarwal said, “We have held discussions with the family of the missing person. The PMC is providing all information available about the missing person to the police.”
Initially, the jumbo facility was run by a private agency, Lifeline, but due to a slew of complaints about the facility and its failure to provide proper treatment, the agency’s service was discontinued. The Medbros agency has now been handling the jumbo facility while senior civic officers have been posted round the clock to monitor the functioning of the facility and resolve citizens’ woes.
The jumbo hospital is expected to have 600 oxygen beds and 200 ICU beds for treatment of critical patients. It is yet to operate at its maximum capacity.
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