On Sunday, Amitabha Bhowmik witnessed his 76-year-old father die gasping for breath on a wheelchair at Tripurasundari District Hospital, waiting for oxygen support. Shyamalendu Bhowmik, who had been running a temperature for a few days, had tested positive for Covid-19 just minutes before.
Shyamalendu, who used to frequent hospitals for the treatment of kidney and cardiac problems, had developed a temperature a few days back. The family continued medication at home for a couple of days till the patient started experiencing serious respiratory problems. Amitabha took his fatter to the district hospital on Sunday morning, where the two underwent mandatory rapid antigen tests.
After test results came positive for both, the authorities allegedly kept the two waiting on a wheelchair for over an hour while arranging for an oxygen cylinder and the ambulance to take them to Agartala. By then, Shyamalendu had died on the wheelchair.
Amitabha, now admitted at a Covid Care Centre in Chandrapur area of Gomati district, claimed his father died because of the utter negligence of the hospital. “We took him to the hospital just for oxygen support this time, around 10:30 in the morning since he was having trouble breathing. They kept us waiting for over an hour on a wheelchair and he died,” alleged Bhowmik, who claims both of them did not have Covid-19 and the reports were false.
Gomati district Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Niru Mohan Jamatia said the patient died within 15 minutes of testing positive. “They came to the hospital at 11:30 AM and we conducted the test, issued refer order, asked ambulance to be ready. He had co-morbidities of chronic kidney diseases. The patient expired in a matter of 15 minutes,” he claimed.
“They said they would refer us to Govind Ballabh Pant (GBP) Hospital in Agartala and delayed one hour during which Baba died. After that, they wasted another one hour for setting up protocol for dispatching the body,” Amitabha said. After two hours of waiting, Amitabha’s mother 67-year-old Bela Bhowmik, his sister and wife accompanied the body to Agartala where Shyamalendu’s last rites were performed at the Battala crematorium by a medical team.
Dr Jamatia admitted to some delay in processing the patient, but said it was due to precautions of packing the body in leak-proof body bag, decontamination, PPEs for ambulance driver, nurses as per government guidelines. “This was the first COVID-19 death in our district. It is very difficult to counsel people to help in handling the deceased. Sweeping staff didn’t want to process it and no ambulance agreed to transport it to Agartala,” the official explained, adding how communicating this to the capital too took some time.
The doctor said when the patient was brought in, there were others in the ICU at Udaipur and he could not be given a bed rightaway. The state health department had earlier asked Tripurasundari District Hospital to convert half of its eight ICU beds to COVID-ICUs. However, this wasn’t done as local authorities felt sparing four ICUs for coronavirus patients without alternative wasn’t feasible.
Meanwhile, Tripura’s COVID-19 scenario is aggravating at a fast pace with four more COVID deaths, taking the state’s toll to 17. Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath told reporters here this evening that 3,920 people have tested positive in Tripura till date, out of which 2,467 have recovered. Tripura is testing 34,766 persons for coronavirus per million with a 2.82 per cent positivity rate. The state claims it has a 63.22 per cent recovery rate and 0.43 per cent mortality rate.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines