A man died outside a pharmacy after three hospitals in Janakpur turned him awayJanakpur Provincial Hospital turned a Covid-19 suspect away citing a lack of beds in the ICU. The man went to two private hospitals before returning home because he could not afford treatment there.
Forty-five-year-old Lok Bahadur Pariyar had been suffering from fever for the past few days. He took paracetamol tablets to bring his temperature down. Soon he also complained of having a common cold and severe body ache. When he reached Subodh Sah’s pharmacy on Monday, he was complaining of difficulty in breathing. He showed all symptoms of Covid-19, says the pharmacist.
Sah advised Pariyar, a resident of Bateshwar Rural Municipality-4 in Dhanusha, to go to Janakpur for treatment since he suspected that Pariyar had Covid-19.
“He was asking me for medicines. His condition was already very serious when he arrived here,” said Sah. “So I called for an ambulance and sent him to Janakpur.”
Little did the pharmacist know that Pariyar would take his last breath outside his pharmacy less than 24 hours later.
The ambulance left for Janakpur with Pariyar at around 7 pm on Monday. Pariyar was chatting with the driver Rambabu Mahato on the way to the hospital. He soon complained of shortness of breath and asked for help from Mahato, who administered him with oxygen.
Pariyar’s residence in Bateshwar-4 is about 16km from Janakpur, the headquarters of Province 2.
The ambulance reached Janakpur Provincial Hospital, a designated Covid-19 hospital, at around 8pm. The oxygen level in Pariyar’s body had dropped to 48 when he reached the provincial hospital. After conducting a health check-up on Pariyar, doctors at the hospital asked the patient to go to another hospital since all Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds at the hospital were occupied.
“I took him to the provincial hospital. The doctors said he had to be admitted to the ICU as his oxygen level was very low but they did not have any bed available,” said Mahato.
Mahato took Pariyar back to the ambulance and went to Janaki Health Care Hospital, a private hospital in Janakpur. The hospital had ICU beds but its administration asked the patient to pay Rs 13,000 per day for a bed in the ICU.
Pariyar could not afford to be treated at the private hospital so he asked Mahato to take him to another hospital. By the time the duo reached Ram Janaki Hospital, Pariyar’s health condition had worsened, says Mahato.
Ram Janaki Hospital also refused treatment to Pariyar, stating that the treatment cost was expensive there.
Since all three hospitals turned him away, Mahato says Pariyar decided to return home. The duo drove back to Bateshwar Chowk at around 10pm.
“I drove him to three hospitals but none took him in. He asked me to take him back home saying that he could not afford treatment in costly private hospitals,” said Mahato.
Mahato dropped Pariyar at the chowk.
The next morning, pharmacist Sah found Pariyar standing outside his pharmacy.
“I was shocked to see him there. He said he went home at night but couldn’t sleep for he could not breathe properly,” Sah told the Post. “When I asked him about his visit to the hospital, he said none of the three hospitals he visited were willing to take him in. He requested me to give him medicines and treat him.”
Pariyar then sat down to catch his breath and soon collapsed. He never woke up.
“I don’t know whether he had gone to other places for treatment. When he came to me on Monday evening, he was already in a critical condition. I thought it best to send him to Janakpur for treatment but sadly he died for want of treatment,” said Sah.
According to the Bateshwar Police Post, Pariyar, who ran an eatery, lived alone at his in-laws’ house. His wife and other family members live in India.
Nepal Army personnel took Pariyar's body from the chowk. They also collected swab samples from the body and sent it to the Province Public Health Laboratory in Janakpur for Polymerase Chain Reaction testing.
The test report is yet to come.
The Janakpur-based provincial hospital has 12 ICU beds. According to Dr Pramod Yadav, the medical superintendent at the provincial hospital, only 10 patients were admitted in the ICU till Monday evening.
“The hospital has to admit patients if the beds are empty. I am still inquiring about what happened in Pariyar’s case,” said Yadav.
The Post tried to contact both Janaki Health Care Hospital and Ram Janaki Hospital but the hospital administrations did not want to comment on Pariyar’s case.