Kin of COVID-19 victims deprived of one final goodbye

A family member of a COVID-19 victim being consoled outside a cremation ground in Ghazipur on Monday.   | Photo Credit: MOORTHY RV

On Monday afternoon, Arunima Bhattacharjee (28) performed the last rites of her father Abhoy (65) who succumbed to COVID-19 last night. She regrets not being able to see him one last time to bid goodbye.

Breaking down, Ms. Bhattacharjee, a lawyer by profession and resident of South Delhi, said that she wanted her father to know that she and her mother tried their best to save him but she didn’t get a chance despite waiting outside Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital and making innumerable calls to the help desk.

“I just wanted to tell him that I didn’t abandon him and you may be leaving us behind but me and Maa will try to be okay just the way you would have wanted. I wanted him to know we tried,” she said sobbing.

Recalling her experience, Ms. Bhattacharjee said that her father, who was also under treatment for neurological problems, was admitted to Lok Nayak Hospital on May 7. “I specifically told the doctors and nurses there during admission that he has neurological problems and he’ll need attention but I didn’t get any update on his health for three days. I kept asking the doctor that I wanted to visit him and three days later, they agreed to let me go inside wearing a PPE kit,” she said.

What she saw had her in tears. “My father was in diapers and a tshirt which were soiled. He was confused and didn’t know what was happening. I decided to shift him because I knew he would die there,” she claimed.

After arranging a bed, she shifted him to Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital on May 14 and that was the last she saw of him. “I waited outside the hospital on May 15 and asked the reception and called on five help desk numbers, but they kept me waiting. I got no word. Eventually, my friend cried on the phone and that’s when they shared details of his bed number,” she claimed, adding she also took to social media for help on her father’s update.

Neharikka Vij from AAP MLA Raghav Chadha’s team then contacted the daughter via Twitter and helped her with the health update on her father. “Thanks to her we got the update that he was okay,” Ms. Bhattacharjee said.

Request for video call

On May 16, claiming that she herself was unwell as she had just recovered from COVID-19 about 10 days ago, Ms. Bhattacharjee did not visit the hospital and continued to call requesting the hospital for “one video call” but to no avail.

On Sunday night, around 10 p.m., she said she received a call from the hospital saying that her father had been put on ventilator. “I was on my way and I asked the hospital staffer to show me my father via video and tell him that he was going to be okay, but that did not happen,” she said.

By the time she reached the hospital, she was informed he had passed away.

Ms. Vij said that she got Ms. Bhattacharjee’s call around 11 p.m. on Sunday asking her to help with information on her father’s heath and if there was any way she could meet her father.

“I told her to calm down and carry a PPE kit and that I’ll try if something can be done. When I called the doctor, he told her father had already passed away. I just didn’t know how to tell her but within the next few minutes, she reached the hospital,” the volunteer said.

Amit Phansalkar (45) from Pune, an IT professional, recalled how he saw his father for the last time when he was admitted in a hospital for COVID-19 in March. “Going into the COVID lift of the hospital… that was the last I saw of him,” he said.

Mr. Phansalkar claimed it was nearly impossible to get updates about his father’s health. “Most of the times, I would just tell the doctor that he can update me when he had the time because I understood they were swarmed with work but I feel there should be a way to be able to contact COVID patients,” he said.

Kartikeya Bhatotia, 24, resident of Pitampura, said that his father is admitted at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and he tested COVID negative a week ago but they haven’t been able to see him or get any update about him. “We don’t know who is his doctor is. My father wasn’t fully conscious for the last two weeks and we were dependent on a healthcare worker for information about my father,” he said.

Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital refused to comment on the matter.

A doctor working with a private hospital, on condition of anonymity, said, “Doctors and healthcare workers are in a terrible condition themselves. They are dealing with more than they can handle. They can’t be expected to update families when they are trying to save lives”.

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 2:30:19 AM |

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