The hospital has accepted a lack of communication Credit: Representational image

Gangtok: Sikkim recorded three deaths related to COVID, taking the casualties to 49. Among the three deaths, one has created an uproar where the family was denied the privilege of carrying out the final rites.

A 57-year-old lady passed away on Monday night who has co-morbid kidney ailments. She was under dialysis for 6 years. Originally hailing from Lingtam, Rongli in East Sikkim, the deceased along with her family of 3 sons are based in Development Area in Gangtok.

The deceased was undergoing dialysis at Central Referral Hospital, Manipal till Friday until she developed breathing difficulties. A subsequent COVID related test showed that she was COVID positive, which resulted in her being shifted to COVID designated STNM Hospital.

Son of the deceased lady shared, “On September 28, my mother under dialysis thrice a week at CRH Manipal developed breathing problem. She tested COVID positive and was rushed to STNM Hospital. On September 29, with her condition deteriorating she was taken to the ICU.”

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“Her dialysis was done for only for 30 minutes as her blood pressure had dropped, the health workers informed us. Again, she was put under emergency dialysis yesterday, as her condition had deteriorated. But she lost her life last evening,” added the son.

The family was informed that the cremation would be held on Tuesday after 2 pm, but when the family reached the hospital in the morning, the body was already taken for cremation. Later when they reached the cremation ground at Jalipool, the funeral pyre had already ablaze. The last rites was carried out without their presence.

“Initially, we were informed that few family members would be allowed to witness the last rites in the afternoon, but they misinformed us and the body was taken at 9.30 am. Upon reaching the crematorium, we saw that the funeral pyre had been lit without the presence of a family. We feel it is negligence on the Health Officials part at STNM Hospital for misinforming. As the right intent would have allowed me to carry the last rites with COVID protocols,” said the son.

Gangtok Municipal Corporation is responsible for carrying out the final rites along with ferrying the dead body to the crematorium from various parts of the State. An official from GMC informed that they are not responsible for the misinformation, as normally the health department and STNM Hospital asserts on family presence during the handing-taking of the dead body from mortuary with the discharge sheet mentioning the contact details of the family members.

In most cases till now a family member lites the funeral pyre in full PPE suit. In Tuesday’s scenario the GMC workers waited for one and half hour for the family to arrive, informed a GMC worker.

STNM Hospital Medical Superintendent CS Sharma admitted that it was a lapse on hospital’s part due to lack of communication. “The hearse vehicle moved early today, although it moves late in the afternoon. A contact to the family couldn’t be made”.

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