In a shocking case of medical negligence, a marketing executive, who works in Pune and hails from Jalgaon, lost two family members, both of whom were COVID-19 positive. While the executive – Harshal Nekete’s (32) mother Tila Nehete (60) died while waiting for an ICU bed on May 31, his grandmother Malati Nehete’s (82) decomposed dead body was found in the hospital’s toilet on June 10 days after she went missing from the same hospital.
Both Tila and Malati tested positive for COVID-19 on May 23 and were earlier admitted at a railway hospital. As their condition worsened, both of them were taken to the COVID-19 dedicated facility at the civil hospital. While Tila succumbed to coronavirus waiting for an ICU bed for six hours on May 31, Malati was admitted on June 1. It is being reported that Malati was shifted to the ward meant for suspected COVID-19 patients instead of the ward meant for COVID-19 positive patients.
When the Harshal contacted the hospital on June 2 regarding his grandmother, he was informed that Malati was missing and she had ‘simply walked away.’ A missing person’s complaint was filed by the family immediately. The police officials visited the wards and corridors at the hospital but could not find Malati.
Shockingly, Harshal says that while his mother Tila was at the railway hospital, she had told him that once she collapsed in the toilet over there and no one from the hospital came to help her. It was after another patient came to the toilet that she went to her bed again. Thinking this, Harshal suggested to look for his grandmother in the toilet but no one checked the toilets at the civil hospital.
For eight days, no one from the hospital staff went to clean the toilet cubicle, where Malati’s body was found. Her decomposed body was discovered only when patients in the ward complained that they could no longer bear the stench. After the body was found, District Collector Avinash Dhakne immediately asked for a check against Malati’s photo suspecting that it could be her.
Following the incident, five officials of the hospital including Dean Dr BS Khaire were suspended. Secretary of the Medical Education, Sanjay Mukherjee informed that a detailed probe has been ordered. It is being reported that before Malati, three other ‘breathless’ COVID-19 patients had passed away while reaching the toilet in the isolation ward of the civil hospital.
“Such episodes shake the faith of public in the system. I have arranged for COVID-19 treatment in two private hospitals and all critical patients will be shifted there,” District Collector Dhakne said.
Harshal’s wife is in the final month of her pregnancy and his father Tulsiram is recovering from COVID-19 at a private hospital in Nashik. No one in the family could attend the funerals of his mother and grandmother. “We can afford treatment in a private hospital but rules did not allow COVID-19 patients to get admitted there. Who is responsible for my grandmother’s death?” Anil Nehete, a close relative told a daily.