Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhubaneswar: In a nerve wracking incident that could make all the tall claims of Odisha’s ‘Best-In-Country’ COVID management fall flat, a man from Talcher received a call from a private COVID hospital in Bhubaneswar informing him that his father is well and good, surprisingly after 10 days of his death.

The phone call recording between the hospital help desk and the nephew of the deceased that went viral on social media platforms provides a peek into the other side of Odisha’s dwindling healthcare system that has very conveniently been portrayed a rosy picture in front of the State.

As per reports, Karanveer Ray from Hatatota, Talcher was admitted to a private hospital under Infocity police limits after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on April 25. For the next two days, his relatives ran from pillar to post to get health updates of Karanveer, but in vain. Even after Karanveer’s reported death on April 27, the hospital authorities allegedly did not provide any information to his son Manoj Ray, who had to lodge a complaint at the Infocity police station following which it came to fore that Karanveer died on April 27 itself.

However, Manoj’s ordeal did not end there. As per the allegations, despite Karanveer testing negative just before his death on April 27, the hospital authorities denied Manoj to handover the body, thereby depriving Karanveer a proper funeral.

“Narrating the incident, a grief stricken Manoj said, “A call was made to my cousin while we were returning from my father’s 10th-day death ritual informing about his health. The caller from the hospital said my father’s oxygen saturation level is at 97% and he is doing well. When my cousin told him that Karanveer has already died 10 days back while under treatment at their hospital, the caller disconnected the call.”

Bringing serious allegations of medical negligence behind his father's death, Manoj has registered an FIR and also wrote to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).  

The incident that drew backlash from all quarters of society is just the tip of an iceberg. A woman from Pichukoli in Khordha was allegedly made to wait outside of a COVID hospital at Kalinga Vihar in Bhubaneswar for two days. “I was told to call the helpline number mentioned here, but nobody is picking up the calls since two days. I want to know the condition of my husband, so that I can transfer him to another hospital with better facilities, if needed,” she alleged while waiting outside the hospital gate.

Similarly, Divyasingh Moharana from Jatani could not find any information about his uncle admitted at a COVID hospital in Bhubaneswar until his death. “I do not know what kind of treatment they are providing there in the COVID ward. I wanted to know whether my uncle was provided with oxygen support and other life saving medicines, but I could not know as attendants are not allowed inside a COVID ward and the helpline numbers are useless,” rued Moharana.

Speaking about the alleged mismanagement, the outgoing Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Prem Chandra Chaudhary said, “The hospitals are short-staffed as well. So,we have decided to set up our own help desk in all hospitals under BMC’s jurisdiction.”

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