Chaotic scenes outside GTB Hospital ward

Stretchers double up as beds as the second largest Delhi government hospital struggles to cope with rising virus cases

April 22, 2021 01:03 am | Updated 01:03 am IST - New Delhi



People dying outside emergency ward of the second largest Delhi government-run hospital, relatives not getting bodies from the mortuary even after 18 hours, people not finding a bed even after visiting five hospitals. These were the scenes that played out at government hospitals as COVID-19 cases surge at a record high in the city.

As the largest Delhi government hospital and several others filled up two days ago, pressure has been more on GTB Hospital, the second largest Delhi government hospital, and officials are struggling to cope with it.

Inside the emergency ward of GTB Hospital, stretchers doubled up as beds, which were stacked up together. In some instances, patients shared beds. There was a constant queue outside the already crowded emergency ward.

Deaths at emergency

Around 11.15 a.m., an unconscious 75-year-old man with low oxygen levels was brought to the emergency ward of GTB Hospital in a car by her wife and daughter.

Doctors carried out the ECG on the patient but left without conveying anything to the relatives. The family understood that he might be dead.

However, his family kept rubbing his hands, trying to keep him warm, and the wife repeated: “Please open your eyes once... Please open your eyes once...”

It was around 11.45 a.m., after waiting in a line outside the emergency and several requests to the doctors, his ECG was done again. It drew a straight line.

The doctor tore a small paper, which was the ECG report, and the family left. The death was not recorded at the hospital.

A woman in her early 30s, who was for the past half an hour either lying outside the emergency or walking with the help of her husband was declared dead outside the emergency.

Surender Kumar, 35, her husband was seen shifting her body into the ambulance without any help and he struggled to drag her body from the stretcher into the ambulance.

“We were waiting outside the emergency and she breathed her last while waiting,” Kumar, a daily wage labourer from Bihar said.

In a span of an hour, two people were declared dead outside the emergency.

“Our resources are stretched and doctors are testing positive. The staffer number has not gone up with the increase in patients but we are trying our best,” a senior doctor of the hospital said. “Many people are dying inside and outside the emergency ward. It’s not that doctors are not trying, but there are too many patients. I was there the whole night,” Deepak Kumar, 32, who came for his uncle’s treatment said.

Delay in bodies

Outside the mortuary of GTB Hospital, Muskaan, 25, complained th at her 29-year-old brother, a COVID-19 patient, died at the hospital around 11 p.m. on Tuesday but they were yet to get his body even after 15 hours.

“We have fought with them, but they’re saying that we’ll have to wait,” Muskaan said. The family alleged that he had only minor symptoms when he was admitted and the hospital did not take care of him well.

At 4 p.m., Mehraj Ali, 36, said that they have been waiting for his elder brother’s body for more th an 18 hours. “We were looking for a bed from 8.30 a.m. on Tuesday and finally got a bed here around 8 p.m. and my brother died at 10 p.m.,” he said.

A Delhi police officer posted at the mortuary said that he has been on duty from 6.30 a.m. “It’s not that we are not working, but 40-45 people are dying every day. How will we manage it? The workers had lunch just now. I’ll be on duty till 7 p.m. We need more manpower,” he said.

Outside Rajiv Gandhi Hospital, a COVID-19 dedicated hospital, Sumit Yadav, 33, said that they have been waiting outside for over one hour for a bed for his 67-year-old father who was gasping for air inside the ambulance. “This is the fifth hospital we are visiting and our oxygen cylinder is also about to be over,” Mr. Yadav said as he broke down.

No beds available

Rajiv Gandhi Hospital had 30 vacant beds at 5.30 p.m. on Wednesday, as per Delhi government data, but officials at the hospital said that there are no beds and Mr. Yadav was turned away.

Peo ple have been facing the same issue with government data on beds for many days. “We don’t know where we will go now. We are depending on fate now,” a teary eyed Mr. Yadav said.

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