Tinsukia. A 70-year-old COVID-19 positive woman had to wait in an ambulance for hours as hospitals and COVID care centres either referred her to another facility or cited lack of beds for females.
On Tuesday, Milan Rani Dey tested positive after which the Field Referral Unit (FRU) in Doomdooma referred her to Gurukul COVID Care Centre (CCC), a facility around 14 km away.
However, she was finally admitted to the Civil hospital in Tinsukia after covering a journey of over 60 km. She had to shuttle between three COVID hospitals and CCCs, wasting crucial time.
The incident was reported the day the Guardian minister for Tinsukia district, Atul Bora, was in the district to oversee vaccination drive and take stock of COVID-19 situation and preparedness. Tinsukia is witnessing a higher number of COVID-19 cases in comparison with other districts, making it challenging for 108 ambulance team to shift the patients either from home or one COVID facility to another facility in the minimum possible time.
When contacted, 108 district coordinator Probal Ray said, “After we received a call from the Doomdooma FRU, we diverted an ambulance to pick the patient. The patient was referred to Gurukul CCC at Chota Hapjan. But strangely the authorities there refused to admit her and referred her to Mohkhooli Model Hospital at Bordubi.”
When the ambulance reached the model hospital, authorities sighted insufficient bed for females and refused to admit her. “The patient was again referred to the Civil Hospital in Tinsukia,” Ray said, adding, “I called the district programme manager (DPM) of National Health Mission (NHM) Noor Islam and informed him about the developments, who told me to wait for some time.”
“By the time DPM called back, we decided to take the patient to Civil Hospital, where she was finally admitted,” added Ray, exposing the struggle for the patient and the 108 team.
“Had we been asked to shift the patient directly to the Civil Hospital from Doomdooma FRU in the first place, we would have admitted her in less than 40 minutes,” he added.
Attempts to speak to Islam turned futile and question sent on his WhatsApp remained unanswered.
According to sources, there are twenty-six 108 ambulances in the district out of which seven ambulances have been reserved for COVID-19 duty, three to four ambulances are reportedly not working, and remaining ambulances are pressed into service to attend regular patients.
On Tuesday, Tinsukia registered 132 cases of COVID-19 taking the total active cases to 1,224. The district’s positivity rate stands at 3.25%.