Delay in handing over the bodies of COVID-19 victims to their family members and space crunch in the mortuary are the two major reasons behind the corridors-of-death scene at the Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS), suggest sources.
“If a patient dies at night, the attendants cannot reach the hospital immediately due to night curfew and lack of transport options, especially if they are in a faraway district. In some cases, we have observed that the health staff advises the attendants to put up in the city limits as the patient undergoes treatment,” explain sources.
They say that there has been an increase in the number of staff who handle the bodies. “People who do this job in these grim times are doing a valuable service. They should be motivated by the authorities. More resources are needed urgently to handle the high burden of deaths,” sources add.
Major corporate hospitals in Hyderabad are almost always full with COVID-positive persons. Small scale hospitals, on the other hand, are refusing to admit elderly patients with co-morbidities, and those with low oxygen saturation levels.
In such a scenario, people are heavily relying on State-run facilities such as Gandhi Hospital, TIMS, District Hospital in King Koti, and Government General and Chest Hospital, which see a steady rush of critical patients throughout the day. Clinging to hope against all odds, some patients are brought dead too.
Prior to the pandemic, the government hospitals had not handled such a high number of deaths. Around 25 to 30 deaths used to be recorded at Gandhi Hospital. In the past a few days, over 70 to 100 deaths are being recorded at the hospital and the fatalities included patients who were brought dead and unidentified bodies. TIMS has only functioned for a little over one year.
Senior officials had earlier said that some private hospitals are sending patients in end-stage to government hospitals, adding to the latter’s death tally.
Staying prepared for a high death burden would help address the issue of bodies being left in the open. It was learnt that freezer boxes are allocated to the District Hospital in King Koti. Senior officials said that similar resources would be provided to TIMS too.