Ahmedabad: Early Thursday morning, Lataben, a resident of Kheralu in Mehsana district of Gujarat, was woken up by a phonecall from her relatives in Agra, who told her that the Ahmedabad hospital in which her sister Jyotiben had been admitted for Covid-19 treatment had caught fire.
“I lost my sister overnight, and no one from the hospital informed us about the fire; we only found out through the media,” Lata told ThePrint with tears welling up in her eyes.
“My sister was supposed to be discharged from the hospital today. She was recovering very well.”
Jyoti was among eight Covid-19 patients — three women and five men — who died in the fire at Shrey Hospital in Navrangpura early Thursday. And, like Lata, relatives of the others also alleged that the hospital authorities didn’t inform them of the fire until they got the news from the media.
Shiraz Mansoori, who lost his brother Altaf in the blaze, added, “The doctors told us much later about the incident. But they spoke about it with no remorse whatsoever. How is it possible that no doctors or nurses got injured in the incident? All these doctors ran away to save their own lives.”
How the fire started
Shrey Hospital is a designated 50-bed Covid-19 facility, where 49 patients were being treated. A male nurse also sustained burn injuries in the incident, Rajiv Kumar Gupta, Additional Chief Secretary of Gujarat, told ThePrint. He said 42 people — 41 patients and the nurse — had to be rescued and shifted to the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (SVP) Hospital.
The fire started at 3.30 am in the ICU ward on the fourth floor of the hospital, where all the patients who died were receiving treatment. Asked how the fire broke out, Gupta said: “Prima facie, the cause of the fire is short circuiting in the ICU.”
Media reports claimed the blaze spread after a staff member’s PPE kit caught fire, but Gupta denied these claims and maintained that short circuiting was the cause.
Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani has ordered a probe into the incident, which will be led by Sangeeta Singh, additional chief secretary with the state home department. “The report will be released in the next three days,” Gupta said.
For now, Shrey Hospital has been sealed, and hospital authorities couldn’t be contacted despite multiple calls and text messages.
Remaining patients stable
Officials at the SVP Hospital confirmed that all 42 people transferred from Shrey Hospital are currently stable. They were admitted into the SVP Hospital at around 6.30 am.
Asked about the male nurse who sustained burn injuries, an SVP Hospital official who didn’t want to be identified said: “He suffered 20 per cent burns on his body. According to the protocol, he was also tested for Covid-19 before being admitted into the hospital, and he tested positive.”
The bodies of the deceased patients were sent to the Civil Hospital for post mortem at 8.30 am. Officials there said a panel of three doctors has been constituted to conduct the post mortem.
Don’t care for the money
Relatives of the deceased patients were left angry, upset and confused by the conduct of the Shrey Hospital staff.
Chirag Shah, who lost his 72-year-old aunt Leelavati, told ThePrint, “This incident just showcases the negligence on the part of hospital authorities. My aunt had been undergoing treatment for the past 10 days. No doctors called us up to inform us of the incident.”
Shah said his family was just asked to collect the body from the Civil Hospital after post-mortem.
Another relative, who didn’t wish to be identified, said: “I am sure this happened because of a cylinder blast. The inquiry will reveal everything.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh from the PM’s National Relief Fund to the relatives of the deceased patients.
Ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the hospital fire in Ahmedabad. Rs. 50,000 each would be given to those injured due to the hospital fire.
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) August 6, 2020
However, the unnamed relative quoted above said: “PM Modi offering money can’t bring our loved one back. We don’t care for it.”
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