At JLNM hospital, attendants accuse ‘absence of doctors’ led to death of COVID-19 patient

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A COVID-19 patient died at a hospital in Srinagar on Saturday allegedly when the doctors were not present in the ward to check on him, as per his family. However, the hospital administration has rebutted the accusations.

Ghulam Mohammad Zehgir, 65, who had tested positive for COVID-19, died in Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial (JLNM) hospital of Rainawari Srinagar, while attendants could be seen trying to rub his feet.

“There is no doctor available in this ward,” an attendant can be heard saying in the video. “Had doctors come then his life could have been saved. We all should leave home. There are no facilities and doctors.”

The video was posted on Twitter by Adil Abass (27), a photojournalist based in Kashmir, on Saturday evening. As soon as the video was posted it went viral, with most users questioning the absence of doctors in the COVID-19 ward.

Mr. Abass, who is himself admitted in the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, told The Kashmir Walla that “if the doctors would have been available he could have been saved either by oxygen or by CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) but the doctors came after the three hours of his death.”

However, the hospital administration has denied any such negligence. “He died probably after suffering a cardiac arrest but not because of breathlessness,” the Deputy Medical Superintendent, Tabassum Shaw, told The Kashmir Walla.

Ms. Shaw further added that the other patients in the ward “didn’t allow us to examine him or enter the ward by creating chaos and blocking our way.”

The ward, in which the patient died, has around 18 patients currently, who are all asymptomatic. Mr. Abass too was shifted to the hospital on 2 June and since then, he accused, hasn’t been examined or re-tested yet.

“I haven’t seen any doctor coming for the check-up in the last five days but they finally came only after the death of Ghulam Mohammad,” said Mr. Abass.

But Ms. Tabassum confronts that accusation. She added that the doctors are always available to examine the patients and at the time of Mr. Muhammad’s death, she was only downstairs.

The family of Mr. Muhammad had claimed that they had already informed the available hospital staff about his Asthma. Mr. Mohammad had been in contact with someone with a travel history and was tested positive only three days ago. He was asymptomatic and had various medical issues such as diabetes, hypertension, and even had a pacemaker in his chest.

“I don’t see any social distancing here and hospital authorities’ negligence can lead to positive patients infecting others,” added Mr. Abass. “The tea they serve us is being left on the door and the positive patients distribute it among others.”

The hospital was declared as one of the full-fledged COVID-19 hospitals in March. “Doctors examine the patients at least four times a day,” says Ms. Shaw.  “We have been working hard for the past few months just to provide all the facilities to the patients. All the claims of the patients of the said ward are false.”

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