A 36-year-old COVID-19 patient was left waiting for hours outside the gates of Haj Bhavan in Hegde Nagar on July 5 after a BBMP ambulance allegedly left him there due to a lack of beds at other hospitals. The patient, who had a cough and was experiencing difficulty in breathing, was not allowed to enter Haj Bhavan as there were no beds available, and since the facility is designated for quarantine and not medical treatment.
Sarah, a volunteer for Mercy Angels, said in a statement that around midnight, the patient was dropped by BBMP officials outside Haj Bhavan. â€śThe patient wasnâ€™t allowed inside Haj Bhavan, which is a quarantine centre, due to lack of beds. He was sick, had a cough and difficulty breathing. We got connected to 108 after a long time and they blatantly said that this is not their department,â€ť Sarah said.
Though volunteers with Project Smile pleaded with 108 officials to send an ambulance to pick up the patient and take him to a private hospital in Shivajinagar, the call centre operator allegedly declined due to a lack of beds. The volunteer argued with the 108 operator, saying â€śWill you allow the man to die on the street in the middle of the night? 108 is for emergencies, it is your duty.â€ť However, they refused the request, Sarah alleged.
The 108 operator finally agreed to help shift the patient, but Sarah said that the ambulance from 108 did not show up.
â€śThey quoted several regulations that patients should have a letter from the hospital. They also said that it is not their responsibility, but after an angry exchange of words, they finally took the number of the patient. But they didnâ€™t call him [even at] 2:30 am. 108 did not respond and [did not] pick up the patient. 1912 [BBMPâ€™s new COVID-19 emergency helpline] did not give any solution. Apthamitra Sahayavani did not give any solution. This is a terrible state of affairs when a patient is left on the streets to die,â€ť Sarah said in a statement.
Finally, the patient was picked up by a friend, and taken to HBS hospital in Shivajinagar.
Nida, one of the people volunteering with Project Smile, who gives oxygen cylinders to those in need, said, â€śI tried all the helplines and none worked. Finally, the patient was taken to HBS Hospital which is not yet fully equipped for COVID, but a duty doctor saw the patient and saw that the oxygen saturation was around 86 (anything less than 90 needs immediate attention). Project Smile supplied an oxygen cylinder to the patient and taught him how to use it.â€ť
Nida says that the patient was then taken to his house, and then the BBMP picked him up at around 10.30 am on July 6 and left him outside the gate of Victoria Hospital.
â€śThey didnâ€™t even take him to the COVID ward, they just left him outside. If you know Victoria, you have to go a considerable distance inside. He walked with great difficulty, taking shelter among some trees, but even then he was not allowed to go inside. They made him wait for at least six hours until a bed was arranged for him.â€ť
The patient is now stable and speaking with his family members, his brother told TNM. The patient has been admitted to Vani Vilas Hospital, and is said to be recovering.
According to reports, BBMP commissioner BH Anil Kumar has noted that strict action would be taken against the ambulance driver, and that he will check on the helpline operations as well.