“They are not treating me here.., so I am committing suicide, I am very sad,” said late Mr Navratna in a self-recorded video from his mobile. Mr. Navratna was admitted to RUHS(Rajasthan University of Health Sciences), Jaipur after getting the COVID-19 positive report on 15th June.
Suraj called his father, Mr Navratna on the evening of 15 June, to check if he was ok. ‘My father said, take me out of here, I’m not being treated here’, Suraj told The Wire. On that day, Suraj assured his father that he will be fine. On the following day on 16th June, Mr Navratna reiterated the same thing that they were not treating him and asked his son to get him out of the Hospital.
“After speaking to my father, we spoke to someone we know in the health facility, he assured us that everything will be alright’)” said Suraj.
The following next two days, whenever Suraj called his father, no one answered the call. On June 19, Suraj got a call from the mortuary of the Sawai Man Singh Hospital (SMS) saying that his father has passed away.
Suraj and his family went to the hospital to collect his father’s belongings like test reports and certificates, the Hospital authorities replied that there was nothing that belonged to them. Only his father’s mobile phone was handed over to them. “That too, we were given after waiting for two hours,” said Suraj. When his family checked on his mobile, they found a self-recorded video, where his father said “I am not being treated here, so I am committing suicide ..I am very sad”.
Reports about his father’s death by alleged suicide first appeared in Rajasthan Patrika. After that, a group of activists and civil society members working under the banner of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), raised the issue.
Speaking to The Wire, Chhaya Pachauli of JSA said that the case seems suspicious. “They didn’t give them the documents. For two days, the hospital made no communication with the patient’s family. This reflects a lag in our public health system. There could be more such cases, who knows”, Pachauli said. This case also raises serious questions about the quality of care and treatment in that particular COVID facility in Rajasthan.
The JSA has also written a letter to the chief minister of Rajasthan demanding a probe in the matter. “The Patient’s state of mind was under immense stress, which is clearly evident from a self-recorded video found in his phone…this raises grave questions on the quality of treatment being provided by this particular hospital to COVID-19 patients,” the letter read.
However, the doctors and healthcare workers have defended the hospital on this allegation. According to them, the patient was shifted to ICU on 16 June, “if he was left unattended, then how could he be shifted to ICU ?”, said a doctor in defence.
The hospital authorities also said that it was hard to believe that the patient died by suicide since patients are attended by nurses and doctors all times.
The state government should conduct a “detailed social and clinical audit of the death” and the report must be submitted as soon as possible, the Abhiyan has demanded. JSA has also demanded for the immediate suspension of the chief-in-charge of RUHS hospital.
A similar incident happened last month in Hyderabad, where a patient sends a video message to his family from a COVID facility during his last breath. The dying patient alleged that hospital authorities had removed the ventilator support even though he faced intense difficulty in breathing, that video was viral on the net and sparked many questions on COVID treatment facilities in the country.