Coronavirus patients in home isolation in Rupandehi complain of being neglected by authoritiesHealth workers have not reached out to every patient in home isolation for lack of manpower and resources, say local authorities.
A 68-year-old woman from Tilottama Municipality Ward No. 5 in Rupandehi had tested positive for Covid-19 in the third week of August. A patient of diabetes and high blood pressure, she had been staying in home isolation despite her doctor suggesting she be placed in a hospital, as there were no beds available at the corona-specific hospital in Butwal. She died on Sunday, while on her way to Bhim Hospital in Bhairahawa.
“We didn’t have a choice but to keep her at home despite her doctor suggesting otherwise. The municipality did not help us secure a bed in the isolation facility at the corona-specific hospital in Butwal,” said Ram Bahadur Gurung, one of the family members of the deceased. “On Sunday, her health condition worsened and we again asked the municipality to help us take her to the hospital. But they said all ICU beds in the hospital were taken.”
Gurung says the woman died due to the municipality’s neglect.
"The authorities shirk their responsibility of coronavirus patients staying in home isolation. Despite our repeated requests, the municipality did not manage a bed for her in the isolation centre, where she would have received better care and treatment,” Gurung said.
Ishwori Paudel, the corona focal person of the municipality, admitted the municipality’s failure in helping the elderly woman with preexisting health conditions.
"We were concerned about her condition. But we could not take her to the hospital since there was no bed available," said Paudel.
Another virus-infected man staying in home isolation in Siddhartha Municipality Ward No. 8, Rupandehi, said he too is disappointed in the authorities’ response to patients staying in home isolation.
"I was suffering from fever and dizziness a few days ago. I called the municipality’s health workers multiple times but they did not answer. One person finally received my call in the evening and suggested that I drink hot water and eat nutritious food. But nobody came to check up on me," said the man. “We only need health consultation. But the authorities here have failed to provide us with even that."
A total of 140 people tested positive for coronavirus in Siddharthanagar Municipality as of Tuesday morning with 84 active cases. Fifty-eight of them are in home isolation. Uma Thapa, chief at the health unit of the municipality, said that health workers have been unable to reach out to every patient in home isolation for a lack of manpower and resources such as ambulances and hospital beds. She, however, claimed that health workers were in regular contact with patients through phone calls.
The number of patients staying in home isolation has increased in several districts of Province 5, as the existing hospitals in the province are already filled to their capacity. The province has only four corona-specific hospitals and 138 isolation centres to cover 12 districts. There are two corona-specific hospitals in Rupandehi district and one each in Butwal and Bhairahawa.
According to the Social Development Ministry, a total of 531 people are currently staying in home isolation in Province 5. As per the home isolation management regulation, health workers should immediately reach out to patients staying in home isolation and should inform the authorities about any health complications in the patient.
Dr Pushpa Raj Paudel, the information officer at the ministry, claimed that the authorities allow patients to stay in home isolation only after monitoring their health condition and after ensuring their houses meet the standard required for home isolation.
“A health team first inspects the patient’s house and their physical condition. Only then are they allowed to stay in home-isolation,” he claimed.