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82 year old grandma dies in toilet cubicle of a COVID-19 ward in Maharashtra

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In Maharashtra, an 82-year-old woman died in a toilet cubicle in a COVID-19 ward and her body was not found after 8 days. This raises an alarm over the persistently overstretched Indian public healthcare structure.

Malati Nehete, 82 years, was admitted to Jalgaon Civil Hospital after she was tested positive for coronavirus but the facility had allegedly run out of providing bedpans. Records of this hospital have also shown that three other “breathless” COVID-19 patients died as they were trying to reach toilet facilities in the ward.

The old womans grandson Harshal Nehete, aged 32, called the hospital on 2nd June and was told by a ward boy that she had suddenly gone missing. On 4th June, Mr Nehete was informed that his grandmother was found but when he visited the hospital on the next day to find that it was a mistake.

Mr. Nehete told the Indian Express that he told the doctors to check the toilets as his mother also had collapsed in one of them previously but no one bothered to check. The alarm was only raised when other patients started to complain of a bad smell coming from the cubicle. The staff broke the door to discover Malati Nehete’s partially decomposed body.

Mr Nehete said that he still shiver thinking how his grandmother managed to get to the toilet as she could not even walk properly.

Five staff members of the hospital are suspended as no-one cleaned or checked on the cubicle for almost eight days, in spite of police search in the wards.

An NGO has already filed a complaint of medical negligence against the hospital. Even other patients at Jalgaon Civil Hospital told the Indian Express that doctors were not checking them properly and a ward boy admitted that they were scared to enter COVID-19 wards.

India is one of the most understaffed and underfunded public healthcare systems in the world. Doctors in public hospitals are forced to use bin bags and raincoats as personal protective equipment (PPE). Also there is a shortage of N95 masks. Therefore, many healthcare workers have contracted coronavirus themselves and don’t have time to care for these patients.

One doctor of a public hospital in Surat said staff numbers had become so low that one doctor is looking after 50 patients. Lack of sleep is a major concern as there are no rooms for doctor. They sleep on chairs or stretchers and due to sleep deprivation reduced efficiency can be seen in doctors.

Public hospitals in New Delhi and Mumbai had already stopped admitting few patients due to no vacant beds.

Also, in Kolkata, the bodies of three people were found who had committed suicide after contracting coronavirus and couldn’t get test anywhere. Police are investigating this incident.

India is on fifth rank as the number of coronavirus cases has crossed 287,000. Confirmed numbers of cases continue to rise and in the last 24-hours, a new single-day record number of cases of 9,996 was reported.

Source: The Telegraph

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