Attendants of COVID-19 patients endure difficult conditions at Delhi hospitals

Relatives of COVID-19 patients outside the GTB Hospital in Delhi.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Two men sat outside the gate of Lok Nayak Hospital on a bed sheet spread over a flex sheet. Behind them, from the hospital’s brick wall, hung a violet mosquito net. The arrangement is their bed for the night.

“We used to sleep inside GB Pant Hospital till five nights ago. But the guards kicked us out and now we sleep here on the footpath. There are too many mosquitoes here and even Odomos doesn’t work. So we got this mosquito net four-five days ago for ₹150,” said Kirpal Singh (46), as he shared the bed sheet with Sandeep Dubey (50).

Attendants of COVID-19 patients, who stay overnight at Lok Nayak Hospital and GTB Hospital, the largest and second largest Delhi government-run hospitals, are struggling.

At Lok Nayak Hospital, attendants were found sleeping on the footpath outside the hospital’s gate and at GTB Hospital, they sleep on benches and even on the floor inside the hospital campus and have to adjust with two unclean washrooms.

Most of them are financially backward and cannot afford a room and are forced to spend their nights in and around the hospitals.

Friendship blooms

When Mr. Dubey and Mr. Singh, both from Uttar Pradesh, met in a ward of GB Pant Hospital in Delhi in February, they didn’t know they would become friends, let alone share a bed on the street outside Delhi.

Mr. Dubey’s mother was admitted at GB Pant Hospital on February 6, which is adjacent to Lok Nayak Hospital, and Mr. Singh’s brother on February 17. Later, both the patients tested positive and were shifted to Lok Nayak Hospital, a COVID-19 facility.

“After being kicked out of GB Pant Hospital we found this place to sleep. But last night some of our hospital documents got stolen from here,” Mr. Dubey said.

They duo spend their daytime talking about Uttar Pradesh, COVID-19 situation and reading Hindi newspapers. “In our villages people still do not wear masks,” Mr. Singh said.

Unclean washrooms

At GTB Hospital, the two washrooms for the attendants are unhygienic and do not have buckets. There is no latch on the door — a piece of rope works as a latch. A portion of the roof has fallen and there were flies inside both the washrooms.

Mukesh Kumar, whose brother is admitted at the hospital, said: “I slept on the floor outside the clinic. The washrooms are really bad, but what can we do?”

Sunil Bhardwaj, whose mother is admitted at the hospital, said he and his wife slept the last night in the park. “There were a lot of mosquitoes, but what else can we do?” asked Mr. Bhardwaj, who is from Rohtak in Haryana.

Sarveshwer Rao, whose brother is admitted at the hospital, said he plans to spend the night on a bench while Vijay, who accompanied his father, shook his head when asked about the washroom. “The roof is leaking and it is very unhygienic. A plastic bottle is there instead of a bucket and a mug,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 12:11:44 PM |

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