Tamil Nadu

‘Ambulance not stationed as Jaya did not want it’

Radhakrishnan deposes before panel

Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan on Thursday told the Commission of Inquiry looking into the death of Jayalalithaa that ambulances were not stationed outside the Poes Garden residence of the former Chief Minister as she was a private person who did not want others to know about her health condition.

N. Raja Senthoor Pandian, lawyer for V.K. Sasikala, said that Mr. Radhakrishnan had told the Justice (retd.) A. Arumughaswamy Commission that he had said that he had not known that Jayalalithaa’s health had deteriorated alarmingly. Mr. Radhakrishnan, who had appeared as a witness for the second time, recalled that the late Chief Minister had attended two events the day prior to her hospitalisation: one where she distributed books to government schools and another where she flagged off two new lines of the Chennai Metro, attended by then Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu.

Mr. Radhakrishnan said had he known that the late Chief Minister’s condition was as bad as it was later revealed, he would have had an ambulance on standby outside her residence, despatched a team of government doctors to attend to her and taken her to a hospital. He said that the downturn in the Chief Minister’s health was unexpected.

Mr. Radhakrishnan clarified why he reached Apollo Hospital only at 5 a.m. on September 23, 2016; Jayalalithaa had been admitted the previous night.

The Health Secretary clarified that he had stayed away as the late Chief Miniser had not wanted any government officials present during a visit to the Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research the previous year. At the time, Jayalalithaa had returned home the same day; Mr. Radhakrishnan decided to visit Apollo after he realised that the late Chief Minister had indeed been admitted.

Later, during an interaction with journalists, Mr. Radhakrishnan mounted a passionate defence of the treatment provided to Jayalalithaa as he had noticed mistakes in news reports on the treatment and death of the former CM.

He said that there was no conflict between the opinion of the doctors of Apollo and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Mr. Radhakrishnan pointed to multiple reports of AIIMS doctors — even on the day before the Chief Minister’s cardiac arrest — to say that Jayalalithaa did not need interventional procedures, including an angiogram.

Mr. Radhakrishnan said the option of taking Jayalalithaa abroad for treatment was discussed in the first week of October. The health secretary said that London-based intensivist Dr. Richard Beale was of the opinion that the facilities provided to Jayalalithaa in India were no less in comparison to what would have been made available to her abroad. To add to that, moving her at the time was considered highly risky as she was on a ventilator and hence, no decision was taken. The Health Secretary said that, as far as he knew, the Chife Minister declined to be taken abroad once she was conscious.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 2:16:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ambulance-not-stationed-as-jaya-did-not-want-it/article25792498.ece

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