A 27-year-old doctor in Delhi, who was on the frontline in the fight against the novel coronavirus, died on Saturday night after a month-long battle against the highly infectious disease. Dr Joginder Chaudhary worked at Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital. He had tested positive for COVID-19 on June 27.
He was initially admitted to the government-run Lok Nayak Hospital (LNJP Hospital). As his condition worsened, however, he was taken to the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital where his family received a bill of Rs 3.4 lakh. While the Baba Saheb Ambedkar doctors' association pitched in to raise about 2.8 lakh for the treatment, his father - a 51-year-old farmer - also wrote to the hospital administration, seeking help. The BSA doctors' association also wrote to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital accepted the father's request and bore the cost of treatment.
Dr Aftab, Member of Resident Doctors' Association of Ambedkar Hospital, said, "Everyone came together in order to pool in the money. Resident doctors of LNJP, Sir Ganga Ram... doctors from everywhere were united for the first time. We all tried to help."
Dr Joginder Chaudhary, who was from Madhya Pradesh's Singrauli, had joined the casualty department of Ambedkar Hospital in November last year.
He is survived by his parents who are in their 50s, a 25-year-old brother and a 12-year-old sister. His farmer father took a loan of Rs 12 lakh to send him to China for MBBS.
Kapil Chaudhary, his younger brother, burst into tears as he told NDTV, "My father sold the house and collected each penny for him. He wanted to do MBBS and serve as a doctor for his entire lifetime. He wanted to set up a hospital and then it became my father's dream to set up his hospital. But we have lost Joginder bhaiya and the dream is shattered now."
Doctors are demanding better assistance from the government. Dr Pankaj Kumar, head of department of the casualty department at Ambedkar Hospital under whom Dr Joginder, worked told NDTV, "It's a new disease and these are tough situations. We work in PPEs even in 44 degree Celsius, but never back out. My humble appeal to the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister is that there should be a special package for all healthcare workers. A blanket order should be issued that all healthcare workers should be treated at zero balance."
Dr Saksham Mittal, Spokesperson of the Federation of Resident Doctors' Associations, said, "Resident doctors are important pillars in this fight. The healthcare policy for us needs to change. If healthcare workers fall ill, there should be cashless treatment for them. They should not be worried while performing their duties about whether they will be able to get better medical care or not and afford a good hospital."
Last week, a 42-year-old contractual doctor Dr Javed Ali had died of coronavirus. He was working with Delhi government's National Health Mission. He was under treatment for about three weeks.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said last week his family will be given compensation of Rs 1 crore, which was announced by Arvind Kejriwal in April for families of health workers who died while serving coronavirus patients.
"In this fight against COVID-19, corona warriors are the ones who we are counting on to win the battle. Amid this fight, it's extremely sad to lose a beacon of hope like Dr Javed Ali. Deepest condolences to the bereaved family. RIP My Friend! A tearfulgoodbye!" Dr Harsh Vardhan had tweeted, paying rich tribute to Dr Javed Ali.
A red alert was issued for the doctors by the top medical body - the Indian Medical Association (IMA)- earlier this month. "IMA declares RED ALERT to doctors and medical administrators to raise their guard. If COVID-19 mortality has to be lessened, it has to start with doctors and hospitals," the doctors' body said in a statement.