Uttar Pradesh fighting a losing battle for beds
As Sushil Kumar Srivastava’s breathlessness worsened, his family bundled the 70-year-old into a car and drove him to a hospital in the capital of India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state, where he tested positive for the coronavirus.
After the private hospital turned the retired government official away because it didn’t have any vacant beds, his son Ashish brought two oxygen cylinders and drove his father on a hunt for a hospital that could admit him.
“All the hospitals asked for a referral letter from the chief medical officer’s (CMO) office,” Ashish said, referring to the top health care official of the city of some 3.5 million people.
At the office, Ashish said nobody helped him. “I was shooed away by the police,” he said, when he tried to meet the CMO.
Three days later, Ashish said someone from the government called him offering a bed for his father — a day after Srivastava had passed away at a private clinic.
The family’s ordeal reflects the worsening Covid-19 crisis in Uttar Pradesh, where people are battling bureaucracy along with the disease. To get a Covid bed in Lucknow, families say they need to show the result of an RT-PCR test, which are already in short supply. “Getting an RT-PCR done in UP is next to impossible,” said journalist Shreya Jai.
Next, patients are required to register with
the CMO’s office, which then forwards the request to the Integrated Command Control Centre for Covid management that makes the final bed allocation, a government official said.
The cumbersome process has come under criticism, including from the state’s Human Rights Commission that has asked the government to ditch the referral rule. “There are expert doctors in hospitals who can decide if the patient needs to be admitted or not,” the commission said on Tuesday.