A family from Mardol going through a COVID crisis was made to the run from pillar to post to get a hearse van, after one of their members succumbed to COVID-19 at the Sub District Hospital (SDH), Ponda on Sunday.
It was the first COVID-related death at SDH–Ponda, a part of which has been dedicated for COVID treatment.
According to the family members, one of their members succumbed to COVID-19 on Sunday morning, and they completed all the formalities to take the body to the village crematorium, but the SDH, Ponda denied them any assistance in shifting the body.
“Doctors said neither the hospital has a hearse van nor there are staffers to take the body to the crematorium. They can only wrap up the body in a PPF kit. Handling it and disposing it will be family’s responsibility,” the family members added.
Following that, the family contacted Ponda Municipality but it refused to provide hearse van claiming that it doesn’t have any orders to do so. Further, the family contacted several private parties urging for help to transport the deceased, but could not get any help.
After a few hours of struggle, a panch member from Priol panchayat Ranjit Prabhudesai provided his ambulance to transport the body. Later in the evening, the family managed to cremate the body following COVID guidelines.
Disturbed over the incident, grieving near ones of the family addressed the media on Monday urging state government as well as political representatives to make some arrangement to transport mortal remains of COVID patients.
“No one should suffer like we had, to arrange the hearse van and for that reason we are urging the government or local MLAs, Ministers to serve the needy people in this situation of crisis,” said Sameer Naik, a Mardol resident.
“If the government can’t make some arrangement, then at least direct local bodies like municipalities and panchayats to use their hearse vans to transport the bodies of COVID patients,” Naik said.
Several people opined that “the first COVID-related death at the SDH Ponda has exposed hospitals’ inability to handle dead bodies of COVID patients. Instead of assisting or guiding the family members about systematic disposal of the body, there was hardly any help coming
from that end.”
Medical superintendent Dr Vikash Kuvelkar and health officer Dr Parsekar were unavailable for their comments on the issue.
Reacting to the incident, South District Hospital in- charge Dr Madhu Ghodkirekar said that it was a real suffering for the family members, and this issue can be settled if local bodies and representatives take responsibility.
“At least this much help people are expecting in this crisis situation from them,” he posted on Facebook.
Further in the post, Dr Ghodkirekar stated that MLA Prasad Gaonkar and Alex Raginald have started such service in their respective areas, wherein they provide their personal hearse van for their voters. Others too can do the same, he expressed.