With the number of COVID-19 patients increasing manifold, there are long queues of patients outside hospitals in Patna and bodies waiting for their turn outside cremation grounds. A Minister and two senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers were among the 4,157 new COVID-19 cases reported in the State in the last 24-hours.
Three big government hospitals in Patna — Patna Medical College and Hospitals (PMCH), Nalanda Medical College and Hospitals (NMCH) and All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) — are reportedly filled to capacity. AIIMS, Patna, is arranging for additional beds, said Sanjiv Kumar, Nodal officer for COVID-19 at the hospital. At least 70 ambulances carrying COVID-19 patients had to return from the hospital on Tuesday due to non-availability of beds, he said. Beds in private hospitals like Ruban, Paras, Ford and Jagdish too are full and many are said to be awaiting admissions there. “New patients can be admitted only after the existing patients are discharged,” said Dr. Satyajeet Singh at Ruban hospital.
“We have had to turn away several patients as no beds are available. We feel sorry for them, but are helpless,” said the administrative manager of a city hospital.
Government hospitals in Patna have a total of 359 beds, while private hospitals have 832 beds for COVID-19 patients. As many as 18,466 people in the State have tested positive in the last seven days and over 50 have died.
On Wednesday, Social Welfare Minister Madan Sahni and two senior IAS officers tested positive. On Tuesday, IAS officer Vijay Ranjan died at AIIMS, Patna.
The government has deputed three senior IAS officials at three government hospitals in Patna for a week to monitor the rush of patients and their treatment in the wake of the sudden spike in cases.
Health Minister Mangal Pandey and State BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal have been visiting government hospitals to monitor the situation. On Tuesday, a retired soldier Vinod Singh from Lakhisarai died in an ambulance on NMCH’s premises as the authorities were allegedly busy making preparation for the Minister’s visit. “When other city hospitals refused to admit my father, we took him to the NMCH on Tuesday. But hospital authorities kept us waiting outside in the scorching summer heat for an hour and a half,” said his son Abhimanyu Kumar. However, the hospital authorities said the patient was “brought dead”.
“Such incidents are unfortunate. For some days now, the number of cases has increased and efforts are being made to improve the facilities in hospitals,” Mr. Pandey said later.
Outside the city’s Bansh Ghat cremation ground, family members of COVID-19 victims have to wait in a queue for long hours. They allege that the employees are demanding huge money for early cremation. “The normal charge for electric cremation is ₹300. The government has made cremation of COVID-19 patients free, but they took ₹16,000 from me. If this is not extortion, what is?” said Brajraj, son of a COVID-19 victim.
Many complained that they were made to wait for eight-nine hours.