A day after the body of a 82-year-old Covid-19 patient, who went missing on June 2, was found inside a toilet at the Jalgaon Civil Hospital, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Thursday promised action against those responsible while maintaining that the government has taken a serious note of the incident.
“A few people have already been booked for this criminal offence. Stern action is being taken against the people responsible for this inhuman act and a probe is also being conducted,” Deshmukh told mediapersons.
On Wednesday, the state medical education department had suspended five senior doctors in the hospital — dean Dr BS Khaire, superintendent Dr Kiran Patil, assistant professor Dr Suyog Chaudhary, an on-duty resident doctor and a casualty officer — after the decomposed body of Malati Nehete was found in the hospital’s toilet eight days after she went missing from the hospital ward.
Secretary (Medical Education) Sanjay Mukherjee said, “A detailed inquiry will be held.”
Jalgaon district Collector Avinash Dhakne said the process of shifting seriously ill Covid-19 patients from the hospital has begun after the incident. While the critical patients will be transferred to two private hospitals in Jalgaon, only those mild or moderately ill will be kept in the civil hospital. “We have already taken over the two private hospitals. We will treat critical patients in these hospitals to avoid untimely deaths,” Dhakne added.
When contacted, Jalgaon MP Unmesh Patil said the civil hospital faces a dearth of medical staffers. “Today, 15 doctors and 20 nurses have been appointed in the hospital to solve the issue of staff shortage,” he added.
There have been lapses on part of government hospitals since the Covid-19 pandemic put strain on the state’s health facilities. Last week, an an-80-year old Covid-19 patient managed to slip out of Shatabdi Hospital at Kandivali in suburban Mumbai and was subsequently found dead on the railway tracks near Borivali station.
Vitthal Muley, resident of Malad’s Appa Pada slums, was admitted to Shatabdi hospital on June 6 following complaints of weaknesses, fever and stomach ache. On June 8 morning, the hospital administration informed his family that he was missing. According to the family, while his test results were awaited, the hospital admitted him in the Covid-19 ward.
“He got very scared. When he was admitted, there was a body in the next bed,” said Pravin Raut, his grandson. Since the family was also quarantined, they were in contact with him only over the phone.
“On June 8, we got a call from hospital saying that my grandfather has not been on his bed since the last half an hour. We called on his phone… somebody answered and told us that he is not on his bed since 5 am. I sent my friend there to find out… a doctor informed him that he is ‘absconding’ from hospital and the police have been informed, “ Raut told The Indian Express.
There is no CCTV footage, as the nearby camera was not functioning at the time. After a search of more than 12 hours did not yield any result, Raut’s friend came to know that a man has been found dead on the tracks near Borivali station and that the body had been moved to Shatabdi hospital. It was Mulley’s body, but the hospital did not inform the family.
Local BJP corporator Vinod Mishra filed a complaint with the BMC and demanded a probe. “This is shocking. How can a man go missing and his body is later found at railway tracks? Action should be taken against the hospital administration,” said Mishra.
Mayor Kishori Pednekar, along with BMC health committee chairperson Amey Ghole visited Shatabdi hospital on Tuesday. “Prima facie security guards are responsible, as they did not pay attention. I have ordered a probe and the guilty person will not be spared,” said Pednekar.
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