Mr Prime Minister, bloody wake up

Medical services need urgent Govt intervention; Ease lockdown conditions for hospitals and doctors

People are dying due to non-availability of medical help, Govt hospitals closing their doors for non-Covid patients and pvt hospitals and nursing homes scared of govt threat and fear of sealing, we are in need for desperate help while the Prime Minister remains unmoved. It is time to bloody wake him up. Join The Correspondent and spread the message.

Capt M K Tayal

Bhupinder Kumar, a diabetic patient, developed problems. His family members panicked. In the lockdown, what were they do? They took their patient to Chandigarh’s prestigious Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research. The premier hospital refused to accept the patient as they were only treating Covid 19 cases. The family members were in tears, pleading doctors. But to no avail.

The condition of Bhupinder was rapidly deteriorating. Unable to get proper medical care, he was finding it difficult to breathe. The family members rushed him to private hospitals. There the doctors too refused to accept, due to strict guidelines by the government. And the same day, Bhupinder breathed his last.

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Prime Minister Narender Modi has imposed a lockdown in the country. Effectively, everything has been shut in the country, except medical and essential services. But ironically, even medical services are not fully available to the people. In the world’s strictest lockdown, the cops have been ruthlessly beating people and implementing the lockdown by resorting to criminal acts under the Indian Penal Code. The Government of India, under the leadership of the pradhan sewak has closed many Out Patients Departments (OPDs) of the government hospitals and only emergency services are operational.

A lady (name not disclosed) in Mumbai had to regularly take chemotherapy. But under the lockdown, hospitals refused to admit her and provide her the care that was due. Her family members went from pillar to post seeking help. They got none. She died last week.

A 42 year old woman developed respiratory problems. She was shifted from Civil Hospital in Ludhiana as the ventilators were not functional mode to Patiala Government Medical College, where she died on arrival. 

Who is responsible?

The senseless of complete lockdown, closing OPDs at many hospitals is just too glaring and smacks of illogical government logic. The ripple down effect of closing OPDs is telling on other hospitals. Millions of people would need medical help in the country of 130 billion, are suffering, and many are dying.

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People were going to doctors for various reasons – from complicated to rather simple problems like indigestion. “What happened to all the patients who were going to the hospitals and doctors,” asks Saloni Arya, a resident of Mumbai who had to endure 15 days of toothache. When she could not tolerate it no more, she ventured in the lockdown, ready to face the legal consequences. She pleaded with the dentist who was not ready to take up patients.

“Just because, corona has come, does it mean that pain of other people suffering is not severe and does not require attention,” says Gaurav Sharma, a journalist in Chandigarh.  “What are people expected to do? Tolerate pain,” says retired official Surinder Goel from Panipat.  However, most OPDs being closed, the government services inside hospitals also require urgent attention.

Govt hospitals facilities are appalling

Facilities in government hospitals are appalling. Recently a video of a family in Janakpuri surfaced online. The father was admitted to a private hospital in Shalimar Bagh for fever and when the tests were conducted he was found corona positive. He was shifted to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash hospital in Delhi, where medical facilities and care were unavailable. For nine hours, he was not attended by the doctors, according to the girl in the video. The father was told that he would be shifted to a quarantine facility in north Delhi but here too he waited without much help. The family feared that the father would die under the circumstances not because of the corona virus but because of the neglect and apathy of the medical staff.  It brought the family to the point of crying publicly and pleading Prime Minister Narender Modi for help to allow them to take their patient to private care.

A decorated Raggi of Golden Temple was shifted to Govt hospital in Amritsar after he was tested positive. But when no doctor turned to see him, he made a passionate appeal over social media.

Mr Modi this is what your lockdown has done which you thrust on the people without considering many aspects like closing OPD services or thinking about the daily wage earners, allowing atleast adequate public transport and allowing people to earn their daily bread.

Government hospitals need repair

In government hospitals, most departments have been turned into Covid departments. “So even if say an orthopedic patient comes, there is no place in the hospital to keep that patient,” says a doctor on condition of anonymity.  

Though the government certainly has been able to increase the bed capacity of accepting corona virus patients just in cases the numbers go exponentially high but besides that the government is working very hard and putting up a brave front. On ground the situation is critical to say the least. The medical facilities of corona patients and other patients need to be improved at this stage.

And even where doctors are seeing patients they are seeing patients from six to eight feet distance. They don’t have PPEs for doctors. According to a source, when doctors in Bihar approached a district magistrate for personal protection equipment, the leaned district magistrate quipped they have been given Rs 1 crore insurance.  “So you want soldiers to fight without guns because they have been insured,” said a doctor to the DM. It is the case throughout the country.

The availability of PPE and N95 masks to availability to government and private nursing homes is a big issue. The government recently issued testing kits but Indian Council Medical Research (ICMR) asked states to put the medical services on hold.

Private Hospitals at the receiving end

A policeman walks inside a shelter set up for migrants during a 21-day nationwide lockdown in Mumbai – Pic Reuters

Private hospitals are at the receiving end of government regulations. They are refusing to see patients as not to be on the wrong side of the law. The government has imposed strict conditions on private hospitals. For instance, the government wants private hospital to maintain records of all patients. And if any patient fails to turn up for a follow up, the next day, the doctor is supposed to call and find and trace the patient. “How is a doctor supposed to call and trace a patient who doesn’t want to show up for the fear of being handed over to the government hospitals,” asks Dr Neeraj, working in a prestigious hospital in Delhi.

And if a patient is found Covid positive, the entire hospital would be sealed and turned into a hotspot. All the staff would be in quarantine. “So who is going to take the risk of locking the entire hospital?  This is complete mindlessness of the authorities,” says another doctor.

Dr Satish (name changed) in Delhi says, “The hospitals are scared today. They are not allowed to take corona patients. Even if one patient is found, the government is sealing the entire hospital. Only big hospitals who can adhere to strict government social distancing guidelines are accepting patients. For the smaller ones, who will take a chance?” The doctor lists over hundreds of private hospitals and nursing homes have been closed across the country.

“Hospital gets sealed for 14 days if any patient is found,” admits Dr Alok Gupta from East Delhi.

“Fear of missing a Covid patient who later may turn out to be positive is huge as virus is asymptomatic in initial stages. In such case FIR is the fear,” says Dr Neeraj.

Problems with private practice are numerous. Hospitals will still have to pay salaries to the staff.  “With no work, we are asked to pay salaries without 50 percent staff and practically no work,” says Dr Alok.

There are few patients almost no elective surgeries are taking place. So expenses of staff and maintaining equipment are issues that need to be addressed as patients are being discouraged to go to the hospitals. Only those with access to transport can visit hospitals. And even those with private vehicles have been harassed by the police.

Some people were using going to hospitals as excuse but this resulted in the police virtually clamping on even genuine people going to see doctors. Public transport is non-existent. So lack of public transport means that the poor doesn’t even stand a chance of seeing a doctor.

A lawyer, Kardak Doji, in Arunachal Pradesh Along district got a kidney transplant last year. He has to visit Coimbatore for regular checkups. But this time round, he has not been able to doctors for the checkup and he is hoping no complications come up.

Even doctors are also scared to entertain patients. Those private hospitals attending patients are doing so at a huge risk. On the other hand, many patients are also scared of declaring their fever or cough or their contact history for falling in the wrong hands of ill-equipped medical care. 
The hospitals are also supposed to maintain social distancing and if the patients or their relatives are not following social distancing norms, they are held responsible. With limited manpower, hospitals are under duress to ensure that those coming to hospitals maintain social distancing.

Ironically, doctors above 60 years of are not safe but are being forced to work. “This is not a good decision of the government,” says a doctor on condition of anonymity.

And in the given situation, many new-borns are being unofficially dumped, according to a doctor. “They don’t have money with salaries and jobs drying up, how are they expected to pay medical biils and take care of new born,” questions a doctor.

The situation is pathetic. The government has to have some bailout mechanism for the people otherwise people will die of other illnesses than corona. While India clapped and bang thalis at our instance to praise the medical staff, Mr Prime Minister, you have not clapped for them so far.

Social distancing is min one meter which 3.5ft and with a mask on


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