Four hospitals refused Patel, who is seven months pregnant with the couple’s first child, before she could finally find one to take him away. But the level of care at the Sardar Patel Covid Care Center and Hospital, a makeshift pandemic on the outskirts of the capital, is so lacking that her husband begs her to leave.
Around 30-year-old Sadanand Patel, people are dying. He has almost no contact with doctors and has limited medicine. Since 80% of his lungs are already infected, he is horrified by what happens if his condition worsens.
“I’m very scared,” Sadanand said Saturday from his hospital bed, through shortness of breath. “If my health becomes critical, I don̵
Only some patients with Covid-19 have been admitted to overcrowded hospitals in India. But once inside, some face a different kind of terror: lack of medical care or supplies while people die around them.
Race against the clock
Sadanand was admitted the day after the hospital opened. When Goldie visited a few days later, the facility was crowded, she said.
In the warehouse-style cavernous facility, some patients lie on cardboard beds. There are limited medications and Sadanand said he only interacted with a doctor once or twice in three days since it was adopted last Tuesday. He watched as two men in nearby beds screamed for medicine to die within hours of running out of oxygen.
By Saturday, his fifth day in the center, at least five people around him died, he said. A dead body lay on the bed next to him for hours before being removed.
But this goal does not coincide with Sadanand’s experience.
“The government thinks they have opened this hospital, the patients here are being treated,” he said. “But nothing like that actually happens.”
Doctors rarely check patients, Sadanand said. He worries that if he needs medical help, he will be too sick to call for help. Sometimes he talks to a patient in a nearby bed who advises him to get out of the center if he feels even a little better.
“You will die lying on your bed because there is no one to call the doctor,” he said.
Others outside the hospital are so worried about the lack of care that they are trying to release their loved ones.
Sadanand says he is so scared that he has repeatedly asked a doctor to move him to another hospital. He makes the same request to his wife – but will not take him anywhere else, says Goldie.
“He wanted me to take him out of this place, he was going to stay home, he doesn’t feel well here and he’s very scared,” Goldie said Saturday.
“I kept trying to explain that if you stayed here, you would at least get oxygen.”
Reducing oxygen supply
The Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College (LLRM), a hospital in Meerut, neighboring Uttar Pradesh, has been flooded.
People are everywhere – on stretchers, on tables, on the floor – moaning and desperate for oxygen. According to hospital staff, there are about 55 beds for 100 patients. There are only five doctors. Some patients lie on the floor.
One of them is the 32-year-old mother of two Kavita, who has no last name. She has been on the hospital floor for four days and is struggling to breathe. She says she did not receive oxygen and saw 20 people die.
“I’m getting anxious,” she said. “I’m afraid I’ll stop breathing,” she said.
Other countries have sent oxygen cylinders and concentrators to India that can help produce oxygen, and the government is transporting supplies around the country using its train network. Dr Harsh Vardhan, the health and family care minister, said on Thursday that there was enough oxygen in the country and there was no need to panic.
“Oxygen was available in sufficient quantities before, and now there is even more,” he told reporters in front of a hospital. “We have so many more sources of oxygen in the country … Whoever needs oxygen has to get it.”
But hospitals are still struggling.
Some hospitals have sent tweets in SOS messages, noting official bills as they pray for more oxygen to help patients cope with air.
Patients’ family members line up for hours in front of oxygen centers holding empty oxygen cylinders. Twelve people – including a doctor – died at a hospital in New Delhi on Saturday after the facility ran out of oxygen, according to Dr. SCL Gupta, medical director of Batra Hospital.
Some hospitals warn patients that if they want to be admitted for treatment, they will have to get their own oxygen.
“We have already told patients before accepting them that they may need to provide oxygen in an emergency if they are admitted here,” said Poonam Goyal, a senior physician at Panchsheel Hospital in northern Delhi. Saturday.
Outside of LLRM, relatives of patients paced back and forth while waiting for news. Inside, LLRM administrator Dr. Gyanendra Kumar said the hospital had enough oxygen but was short of staff.
“We are not denying anyone,” he said. “I have never seen a crisis like this before the coronavirus, but I think we are doing the right thing.”
Lack of drugs
Although Goldie Patel is relieved that her husband is receiving oxygen, she is worried about his overall condition – without a cure for a lung infection, the damage has spread to 80% of his lungs, according to a CT scan.
Whenever she sits down, she starts coughing violently and the pain breaks in her chest, she said. He was given food, water and oxygen at the hospital, but little medicine – the hospital staff gave him antibiotics after she told the staff that she would commit suicide. On Friday, she entered the center to bring medicine to her husband, who is the only income for their family.
“Along with oxygen, treatment is just as necessary,” Sadanand said. “You can’t just live in the hope that if you get oxygen, you’ll be fine.”
Dr Chandrasekhar Singha, a senior lead consultant for children’s critical care at Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital in New Delhi, said a patient with an infection in 80% of their lungs would have to treat their infection with antivirals, steroids and antibiotics. oxygen. “When you give oxygen, you buy for a while,” he said, speaking in general terms, adding that 80% of infections “don’t look good.”
Every two or three hours, Goldie calls her husband. They speak for only a few minutes before his breathing becomes difficult.
“I feel dangerous,” she said. “I don’t make him talk too much. I’m tense all day.”
Goldie is afraid for herself – she is seven months pregnant and does not know if she has Kovid. It has no symptoms, but has not been tested as that would cost 900 rupees ($ 12). Still, she says, she has to support her husband. Both their parents live in Uttar Pradesh and have no other support.
Both are disappointed with the authorities’ ineffective response. Sadanand said that if he thought he was being treated properly, he would not involve his wife at all.
“If someone has been admitted and their treatment has begun, then you would never want your pregnant wife to go out during Covid cases to (try to find a facility) for you,” he said. “In your mind, you will always worry about what will happen if she gets a coronavirus.”
Julia Hollingsworth writes and reports from Hong Kong. Sandy Sidhu reported from Hong Kong. Tanya Jane reports from Gurgaon, India. Elizabeth Joseph and Clarissa Ward report from Meerut, India. Vedika Sud, Manveena Suri, Suati Gupta and Esha Mitra report from New Delhi, India.