A woman passed away outside GMR Varalakshmi CARE hospital in Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh after the hospital administration allegedly insisted on an upfront payment in cash and refused to accept digital payments. The woman, identified as N Anjali of VR Agraharam village of Rajam mandal was moved to the hospital after she tested positive for the coronavirus.
Family members of the woman said that they were asked to pay Rs 60,000 as an advance fee in cash at the hospitalâ€™s reception itself. In a video of the incident, a family member is seen saying that after this, they searched for ATMs to withdraw cash.
The New Indian Express reported that meanwhile, the auto-rickshaw driver, with the help of a female attendant, moved Anjali to the road outside the hospital and left. By the time the family members returned, Anjali was in a critical condition. It was alleged that the hospital management refused to administer oxygen support despite repeated pleas.
It was also reported that the family struggled to shift Anjali's body from outside the hospital, where she had collapsed dead, to the crematorium, as no one came forward to help, fearing that they would contract COVID-19. This was despite the local police and municipal staff being present at the spot. A reporter with a vernacular news channel, who was wearing a PPE kit, reportedly assisted the family to shift the body.
However, the hospital has denied this incident to the media and instead claimed that there was no hospital staff present when the patient was brought in. The hospital staff at the reception told TNM they were unaware of the incident. The Medical Director of GMR Varalakshmi CARE hospital Dr Rajendra was not approachable but had reportedly told the media that the patientâ€™s attendants had not disclosed her health condition. He added that the attendants were informed by security guards to come at 9.30 am, when the staff arrived.
Srikakulam Municipal Commissioner N Ramesh also reached the spot and helped arrange for a vehicle to shift Anjali's body to her village, where the last rites were performed following COVID-19 protocol. Speaking to TNM, the Circle Inspector of the Rajam Police Station said that no complaint has been filed and no case has been booked, pertaining to the incident.