The death of seven persons on a single day at a hospital in Palghar district sparked anger among relatives over the alleged short supply of oxygen cylinders and administrative failure at the facility amid the rampaging Covid-19 crisis in Maharashtra. The fatalities — all reported from the intensive care unit — may also be indicative of the larger crisis gripping the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation under whose jurisdiction the Nala Sopara hospital falls. Officials at the tertiary care centre, however, have said the patients were already in critical condition at the time of admission.
Many relatives of the seven people who died on Monday at the Vinayaka Hospital in Nala Sopara, some 60 kilometres north of Mumbai, blamed the shortage of oxygen and doctors’ irresponsibility for the loss of lives.
A huge crowd gathered at the hospital last evening to vent its fury. Some of the people gathered said that if they had been informed about the situation earlier, the victims could have been shifted to other facilities in Mumbai or other places.
Pinki Varma, the daughter of one of the victims, told reporters that her father was recovering well and was scheduled to get discharged yesterday.
“My father was corona-negative, but was put in the Covid ward,” Ms Varma said. “Today, they called to inform us that there was some emergency. When we arrived, there was some crisis happening over oxygen and a huge crowd had gathered. From 3 pm to 5 pm, they made us wait without giving us any information.”
Another relative, who identified herself as only Shahin, said the doctors had warned that anything could happen anytime to her brother admitted to the hospital. The family was asked to get an injection costing Rs 35,000, which was provided, she said.
“Today they told me that my brother’s heartbeat was not normal. They were pumping. Clearly, he had died by then. They asked for an ECG. He had flatlined by then,” Ms Shahin said.
The police later arrived at the hospital to calm tempers down and disperse the mob.
Hospital authorities, however, said the patients didn’t make it because they had low immunity, were advanced in age, and had co-morbidities.
“Vinayaka Hospital is a tertiary care centre of Vasai-Virar municipality…We get patients who are transferred from smaller hospitals and their conditions are usually already critical when they arrive here,” Dr Shashi Kant of Vinayaka Hospital. “Since we are a big hospital in the area, we don’t deny patients. Because if we refuse to admit them where will they go?”
He said the relatives had been told in detail about the patients’ conditions.
The Vasai-Virar municipality has allegedly been facing a shortage of oxygen cylinders over the past may days. An audio message from Mayor Rajiv Patil has been in circulation on social media and messaging apps, appealing to the state administration to ensure supplies.
Local MLA Kshitij Thakur yesterday tweeted, tagging the Prime Minister’s Office, highlighting the critical condition in Vasai taluk.
“Notably, the supply can run for only three hours. There are more than 7,000 active cases in the area and more than 3,000 people require oxygen supply daily,” said Mr Thakur of Bahujan Vikas Aghadi party.
Unfortunately, three lives have already been lost due to no oxygen supply in our area. I request @PMOIndia to look into this serious matter and provide ample oxygen supply to the Taluka. This will prevent any more loss of lives.
— Kshitij Thakur (@kshitijhthakur) April 12, 2021
Maharashtra has been India’s worst affected state in the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, the second wave of which is now sweeping through the country. Over 63,000 new cases wee reported yesterday alone, along with nearly 400 deaths. This has taken the state’s overall count to over 34.07 lakh infections and nearly 58,000 fatalities.