Today, with the rituals over, when we look back, it hurts even more when we go through those last 40 minutes of what happened to my father, Shri. Shyamal Basu.
As soon as my father started feeling uneasy at around 9:30 am, we rushed him to a hospital just a three-minute drive from our house in Ghatkopar East. I was accompanied by my wife and my mother.
Upon reaching the hospital, we informed the staff that this was an emergency case. My father was made to sit at the reception while the doctor was called in from the neighboring wing. 10 minutes, no sign of anyone. All this happened while we kept calling out that it was an EMERGENCY case.
After 10 minutes, the doctor arrived. It took him at least another five minutes to wear his PPE suit. Almost 15-20 mins down with no medical attention, we started asking the staff for immediate attention as dad started having pain in the chest.
The doctor and a nurse finally arrived to see my father. Checked his temperature, which was absolutely normal. Checked a few other vitals. Told my mother and me to take him to one of the Covid hospitals close by.
We explained to him that we knew better than to get a Covid patient to a heart hospital and that my father was showing every symptom of a heart attack. We begged for some basic first aid but they refused and reiterated that he should be taken to a Covid hospital.
I rushed out to bring the car to the gate of the hospital. Dad started complaining again of chest pains. I could see my father walking out and approaching the car, him collapsing on the road at the gate of the hospital. Just five feet from the car is where he stumbled. My mother, helping him to walk, fell first, with him in her arms. We were screaming, begging and pleading for help. I rushed into the hospital building and saw the doctor standing inside, completely frozen and refusing to even acknowledge what was happening outside. I was explaining and begging him to please help my father. He refused. Not one person from the hospital offered to help, not even to move him into my car.
In the entire chaos, two young men traveling in an auto-rickshaw stopped, helped us lift my father into the car.
We rushed to the next hospital. We were just ten feet away when I turned to my father. He was cold. We reached the hospital where he was declared brought dead. An absolutely fit human being, taken to the hospital as an emergency case within the golden hour, made to sit outside for 15-20 minutes, given no help.
My mother and I struggle to accept that this is how a life so precious to us was lost. We know life is fragile, we know that one's life is not in anyone's control, but how do we shake off the thought that if the doctor and hospital had helped, or what if we had not lost time there and been able to move him faster to the next hospital.
Several people regret not being present or even not being able to take a patient to the hospital in time. But imagine if you manage this and are flat out refused any help from the very place that is meant to save lives. How do you live with that?
(Victor Basu is a lawyer at the Bombay High Court.)
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