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No ambulance, kid dies in mom arms on road

No samples for tests were collected at the Jehanabad Sadar Hospital; neither did he get any oxygen support, his parents alleged
Rishu’s mother mourns his death.
Rishu’s mother mourns his death.
Picture by Sanjay Choudhary

Dev Raj   |   Patna   |   Published 11.04.20, 10:16 PM

A three-year-old who had cough and fever died on the roadside on Friday after ambulance drivers at a government hospital in Jehanabad, Bihar, refused to take him to Patna Medical College and Hospital where doctors had referred him.

Rishu Kumar’s symptoms resembled those of Covid-19 but it was not immediately clear if the boy, from an economically underprivileged family, had contracted the disease.


No samples for tests were collected at the Jehanabad Sadar Hospital. Neither did he get any oxygen support, his parents alleged.

The desperate parents had later rushed out of the hospital and on to the road to Patna, hoping to run the 50km to the state capital under the scorching midday sun, but the boy died in his mother’s arms.

“Two-three ambulances were parked at the (Jehanabad) hospital but none was ready to take us to Patna. We sought help from several people, but nobody helped. My son died,” Rishu’s father Girijesh Kumar said.

The incident has raised questions about the preparedness of the government health system at a time it is supposedly on high alert to tackle the pandemic and help suspected coronavirus patients caught in the middle of a lockdown.

Jehanabad district magistrate Navin Kumar told The Telegraph he had ordered a probe by the civil surgeon and an additional district magistrate (ADM) after he learnt of the child’s death on Friday evening.

“Acting on the report of the combined probe conducted by an ADM and the civil surgeon, we have terminated the services of the hospital manager, who was a contractual employee. We have also recommended strict action against two doctors and four nurses who were on duty when the incident happened. We have held all of them responsible for it,” Navin said on Saturday.

Jehanabad Sadar Hospital superintendent Vijay Kumar Jha said: “The boy was brought in the last stage and the chances of his survival were negligible. But it’s true that ambulance drivers were present and refused to take him and his family members to the PMCH. Maybe, they also sensed the boy would not survive.”

Asked why no samples were collected for coronavirus tests, the superintendent said the family took the body away before anything could be done.

Girijesh, a marginal farmer who also does odd jobs for a living, said his son had been ill for a few days and he had taken him to the primary health centre in Kurtha in Arwal district where they live in Lari Shahpur village.

Doctors at the health centre referred the kid to Jehanabad but did not collect any samples to test whether he had caught the infection. His parents then hired an autorickshaw to the Sadar Hospital.

“My son had cough and fever. The doctors at Jehanabad Sadar Hospital said we should immediately put him on oxygen and take him to the Patna hospital. But we did not get an ambulance for two hours,” Girijesh told reporters.

Rishu’s mother then picked up the ailing kid and ran out on to the road to Patna. Girijesh followed, with their daughter and a bag in his arms.

They ran for around half a kilometre before they stopped to catch their breath on the locked-down deserted road. It was then that Rishu’s mother realised her son was dead.

But the family’s ordeal wasn’t over yet.

When Girijesh and his wife went back to the Jehanabad hospital to try and find a vehicle to return to their village, they got no help. Finally, a social activist from the area said they could use his vehicle.

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