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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Covid doctor heckled by MP Congmen, quits

The incident on Saturday was captured on video by a doctor on duty at J P Hospital, who shared the clip online, prompting a backlash on social media and a tweet from Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan appealing for people to respect those at the forefront of the fight against Covid.

Written by Iram Siddique | Bhopal |
April 12, 2021 4:15:24 am
A screengrab of the video.

THE NODAL officer for Covid care at a top government hospital in Bhopal submitted his resignation after he was heckled by a group led by Congress MLA and former minister P C Sharma over the death of a 35-year-old man in the facility’s emergency room.

The incident on Saturday was captured on video by a doctor on duty at J P Hospital, who shared the clip online, prompting a backlash on social media and a tweet from Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan appealing for people to respect those at the forefront of the fight against Covid.

However, the family of the deceased said the video did not show the full picture and that they were repeatedly told to take him away to a private hospital as there were no ICU beds available.

“The way their doctors were talking to us, pushing us to take him away to a private hospital, was unbearable,” said Rajendra Sakhya, the brother-in-law of Takhat Singh Sakhya who died after his oxygen levels dipped to critically low levels although his Covid test was negative.

The nodal officer, Dr Yogendra Shrivastava, subsequently withdrew his resignation following intervention from the Health Minister.

The incident came to light on Sunday when Dr Ritika Pandey posted the video that shows a group of people, including Sharma and ex-corporator Guddu Chauhan aggressively approaching Shrivastava.

It shows Sharma questioning the doctor: “We need to talk to you, what is the problem in talking to us?”

The video shows Chauhan shouting at the doctor: “Why will you not talk to us? You have reduced us to a joke.” Shrivastava is seen trying to explain the situation.

After the video was shared, the Chief Minister issued an appeal on Twitter, saying people should “behave as responsible citizens to uplift the morale of doctors instead of diminishing it.”

Later, Shrivastava said that he had tendered his resignation. “The patient was brought in critical condition. We informed the family that his condition was so critical and there were not enough beds available. But he was in such a critical state that he could not be transferred. I treated him to the best of my ability and yet we are treated like this,” he said.

But even as the video went viral, the wife of Sakhya, 30-year-old Manju, was left staring at an uncertain future after cremating her husband. While Sakhya worked at a photocopy shop, Manju is unemployed and now has to look after their three children — they stay in a one-room house in Kolar Guest House Colony.

According to her, her husband was “healthy until two days ago” when he returned home with fever and cough. “He took medicines from a local doctor who suggested that we get a CT scan. But his uneasiness increased with pneumonia-like symptoms and we were told to get him admitted to a government hospital. On Saturday, he could barely keep his eyes open when we got him into an auto and rushed him to JP hospital at 9 am. But they turned us away, saying doctors were not available,” said Jeevan Lal, a relative.

According to Lal, they approached a private hospital but were turned away. “We returned to J P Hospital along with a friend, Rajkumar Saini, who is also a Congress worker. With Rajkumar’s help, we admitted him to the emergency centre at 12 pm,” said Lal.

According to the family, the doctors started “forcing” them to take Sakhya to a private hospital. Says Saini, the Congress worker: “I reached MLA Sharma’s bungalow and made several calls to all the doctors, from CMHO to the civil surgeon but none of them took calls. After an hour, Sharma and Chauhan came to the hospital.”

Madhya Pradesh has, so far, recorded 32,707 cases since February in the latest Covid surge. “When the Chief Minister is saying that there is no shortage of beds, why was the doctor asking us to take him away?” said Rajkumar.

MLA Sharma said: “Takhat Singh’s wife told us that doctors pulled out the oxygen after which he died. Under the circumstances, the anger was inevitable. Someone has died owing to poor medical treatment but no one is talking about it.”

When contacted, Chauhan said: “When we reached the hospital, Takhat Singh’s wife was crying as he had already died. There is no one to listen to the poor. You lose your temper in such a situation.”

At JP Hospital, Civil Surgeon Rakesh Shrivastava said: “Dr Shrivastava took his resignation back after he was informed by the Health Minister (Prabhuram Choudhary) that it was not the right time. The allegation about the hospital turning away patients is baseless as the patient was brought in critical condition with very low oxygen level.”

On Sunday morning, Sakhya’s family members placed his body in the middle of the road at Kolar Square as a mark of protest and refused to cremate him until Manju was given compensation of Rs 25 lakh and a government job. The protest was called off after authorities assured that the demands would be placed before the Chief Minister.

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