BENGALURU: While politicians have smooth access to hospitals after they test Covid-positive or have any other health issues, a 40-year-old domestic help, Mumtaz, a Covid suspect, died battling for her life, as she could not find a bed in Bengaluru.
A single mother, she leaves behind two children orphaned as three hospitals did not admit her. She died on way to the fourth hospital.
Volunteers from the Emergency Response Team (ERT) of NGO Mercy Mission tried desperately to help her get immediate treatment from 7 pm on Saturday, but could not and she died at 10.30 am on Sunday.
Her oxygen saturation levels dropped to 65-70 per cent, while the normal is 95 per cent and higher. Her Covid test result was still awaited when she breathed her last. She visited Shifa Hospital, where no bed was available. She then went to Bowring Hospital, where they said they cannot admit her without the Covid test result. “We received a call after she was rejected at Bowring and we sent them two oxygen cylinders. When the second one was being administered, she stopped responding. We then took her to St Martha’s hospital, where they did not give her emergency first-aid unless Rs 40,000 was paid upfront,” said Mohammed Zaki Khaleeli, a volunteer with ERT.
Mumtaz, who did not have a job for a while, did not have any money. The volunteers requested with the hospital to provide her treatment, while they would arrange for the money. But the hospital administration refused to oblige, Khaleeli said. They were taking her to Victoria Hospital but she died en route.
After she passed away, even three people could not lift her body as it had swollen because of fluid retention. “Not providing first-aid emergency treatment is inhuman. We had to use our connections to try different hospitals and there was no government help. In the first wave, the war room did a decent job of allocating beds to patients, but this time, they do not seem to be functioning,” he added.
‘No hospital can deny bed’
Health Commissioner Dr Thrilok Chandra said he will look into the issue, while Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said the State Government is committed to ensuring timely treatment for all Covid-infected people. He said he has held several meetings with private hospitals and medical colleges to reserve 50 per cent of beds for Covid treatment and has personally paid surprise visits to check compliance.
“No hospital should deny treatment to any Covid or non- Covid patient. Strict action will be taken against such hospitals including revoking of their licence,” he said, adding that he has instructed hospitals not to admit asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients, who can be under home isolation or at CCCs, to free up beds for those who need them.
He said he suggested to hospitals to set up makeshift units in collaboration with nearby hotels for those who do not need hospital beds. “I request people to not panic and seek hospitalisation only after they test positive. 95 per cent of the infected do not need hospitalisation and can recover at home. I urge people to get tested at the first sign of any symptom.”