Days after a 26-year old swimming coach of a Delhi government facility died of coronavirus infection, his family has alleged negligence on the part of Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC).
LHMC, however, denied the charges. "We have already inquired into the matter. There was no lapse on our part," LHMC Medical Director NN Mathur said.
The family members of the swimming coach who died also claimed that they were asked to help pack the body after the patient died.
Ashutosh Gupta, who worked as a lifeguard and swimming coach at the Jhandewalan swimming facility of the Delhi government, succumbed to the deadly virus on June 17, just two days before his 27th birthday and four months of his wedding.
"My brother was a strong man. He weighed 80 kilograms. He was the backbone of our family," Ankit Gupta (20), younger brother of the Ashutosh, said.
He claimed his brother did not have any underlying condition and was physically fit.
Ashutosh Gupta had developed a fever and was taken him to the LHMC, where the medical staff conducted a COVID-19 test on him and told the family that he was a strong man and would "easily recover at home", the brother said.
A doctor at the facility told the family that the report would be available after two-three days, he added.
"At home, he had trouble breathing. We asked our neighbours to lend their oxygen cylinder to us," Ankit Gupta said.
On June 14, the LMCH staff told the family members that the COVID testing report had been misplaced, Kunal Gupta, cousin of Ashutosh Gupta, alleged.
"We rushed to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital where another test was conducted. When his condition deteriorated, we admitted him to LHMC on the morning of June 17," he said.
"At 10 am that day, we received the test results. He tested positive but the hospital staff did not shift him to the corona ward," Kunal Gupta claimed.
He added that the hospital staff kept his cousin in the orange zone, where suspected cases awaiting test results are kept. The room was unhygienic, there was no bed sheet on the bed, he alleged.
Ankit Gupta claimed the hospital staff refused to replace the nasal cannula, which was unsteady, and asked the family members to hold it instead.
"My brother collapsed in the bathroom. The staff did not even come for help," he added.
"His condition deteriorated and he started frothing from the mouth. We requested the doctor to rush but he did not come immediately," Ankit Gupta alleged.
The family members also claimed that they were asked to help an attendant pack the body, lift and move it.
Ashutosh Gupta's mother and wife have undergone COVID tests and are awaiting results.
The family lives in a rented accommodation in Karol Bagh and is now wondering how they will pay the Rs 16,000 monthly rent and keep things going.
"We depended on him completely. My father worked as a security guard at a blind school on Panchkuian Marg. But the school is closed now and he has not got his salary," Ankit Gupta further said.
The Lady Hardinge Medical College rejected the allegations levelled by the family.
"The patient was brought to the hospital at 2 am on June 17 with severe respiratory distress. He was admitted to the SARI ward (Severe Acute Respiratory Illness) which comes under the orange zone," the LHMC medical director said.
"His samples had already been given somewhere outside for testing even before he was brought to the hospital. Later during the day, after his reports came out to be positive, we started the process to shift him to the red zone, but he collapsed," Mathur said.
Ashutosh was intubated and all resuscitative measures were taken but he could not be revived. He passed away at 4 pm on June 17, he added.
Responding to the family's allegation that its help was taken to pack the body, Mathur said, "This is not possible but we are inquiring into it."