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Death of a COVID-19 patient in JLNM Hospital, Srinagar

Death of a COVID-19 patient in JLNM Hospital, Srinagar
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With the death of a 70-year-old in JLNM Hospital, the death toll due to COVID-19 reached 33 in Kashmir Valley. While the patients blame the doctors of negligence and absence from the spot, the medical officer denies any such allegations leveled by patients

Srinagar: Heartbreaking stories continue to pour in as COVID-19 pandemic crosses stage 3 in Kashmir, with 38 deaths so far in Jammu and Kashmir, 33 of which have taken place in Kashmir valley. While the pandemic has left the whole world crippled and clueless, the official apathy and negligence have only proven disastrous for patients admitted in government hospitals in Kashmir.

A 70+-year-old man, a COVID-19 patient from Baghat Barzulla in Srinagar district died at JLNM Hospital Rainawari, on Saturday evening. The deceased was also suffering from pulmonary ailments.

Dust-bins in one of the wards of JLNM Hospital Rainawari depicting the lack of cleanliness and hygienic surroundings. (Picture By: A Patient admitted in JLNM Hospital)

While as the doctors have been hailed as the saviours and applauded as the people on the frontline battling the pandemic, the Ward 1A at JLNM Hospital Rainawari has a different story to narrate. The patients blame the death on the negligence of the doctors.

“He got a heart attack at about 6:30 pm. I rushed out of the ward to call for a doctor but there was no doctor present in the entire hospital”, said Mohammad, son of the deceased, himself a CoVid-19 patient admitted in the same ward of the hospital.

“We waited for an hour, made several calls to the doctors, police, and administration, but no one turned up. Had timely treatment arrived, the patient could have been saved. He did not die of COVID-19, he died of the lack of timely treatment”, said Hameeda Bano, a lady patient admitted in the same ward.

Source: A patient admitted in the JLNM Hospital, Rainawari.

There are around 16 ventilators installed in the JLNM hospital, but the deceased was not put on one, despite his worsening situation, simply because there was no doctor present in the hospital, which has been specifically earmarked for COVID-19 emergencies. “The 70-year-old man died of absolute callousness and apathy of the doctors and administration”, said another patient admitted in the same ward.

“There are many patients with previous medical conditions admitted in the hospital for COVID-19 recovery. If a similar situation arises tomorrow, who do we call for help? It’s better if they let us go and stay home or private quarantined”, said an angry young patient admitted in the adjacent ward.

“Before admitting a patient in the hospital, they do n bother to check his medical history. They should at least do a chest X-ray and take into consideration the previous medical ailments of a patient. Patients already suffering from a serious medical condition like heart or respiratory diseases should not be kept in a hospital where there is no staff to administer emergency care on a patient”, says Waheed, another COVID-19 positive patient in the adjacent ward.

When asked for the official version, Dr. Bilquees Shah, a Resident Medical Officer (RMO) at JLNM Hospital, initially refused to give a statement, saying that the work they have one at JLNM with more than 300 COVID-19 positive patient recoveries, is a proof for our work. When asked about the complete absence of doctors at the hospital on this particular night, Dr. Biquees denied the patients’ claims about the absence of doctors, saying, ‘we always have a group of doctors present in the hospital’.

However, the patients witness to the death of the 70-year-old man stated that the deceased breathed his last on his bed in the general ward, without any medical help from any doctor.

All the patients in the adjacent wards assembled in the corridor asking for justice. A cursory survey of the adjacent ward revealed that at least 4-5 patients admitted there are diabetic or have a previous medical condition.

Apart from the apathy on the part of the doctors, the patients also complained of the lack of basic facilities like dirty washrooms, a single washroom for almost 20 patients without gender segregation, failure to provide basic equipment like hand sanitizers, etc.

Coronavirus has been spreading at an alarming pace in Kashmir with a total number of 3324 cases including 1086 recoveries. The unpreparedness and callousness of the administration and doctors put the patients at serious risk of death.

[The story is submitted by a patient who is admitted in JLNM Hospital and is witness to all the events which took place in the ward of the hospital].

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