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Non-COVID Medical Emergencies Ignored at Govt Hospitals

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(KC Kalkura*)
With deep regret and a sense of sorrow and a broken heart, I have bad news for you all.  It is the sad demise of a fellow Osmanian (An Alumnus of Osmania College,  Kurnool) Siva Prasad, Osm Siva Prasad (8-4-1941 to 2-7-2020) 1962-65 batch degree (my classmate). He was 79 years old and leaves behind his wife, one son and four daughters.
Siva Prasad was living in his ancestral village, Yemmanuru in Uyyalawada Mandalam, near Allagadda, Kurnool Dist A.P.  Settled as an agriculturist, Annadata, he was participating in Literary and cultural programs all along with the division and neighboring Jammalamadugu division in Kadapa Dist also.
The region is known as Renati Seema. Even illiterate farmers in the region recite at least a hundred Vemana poems and Sumathi Satakams and timely quote them. This is the region that has produced one of the earliest freedom Fighters, Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy and philanthropist Budda Vengala Reddy and literateurs Dubbaka Rajasekhar Sathavadhani and Gadiyaram Venkata Sesha Sastry.
Two years back Siva Prasad had some setbacks in normal health. He was fully recovered.  On the intervening night of 28th and 29 June 29, 2020, he woke up and went to the bathroom. His leg slipped and fell. He suffered a fracture in the thigh. By early morning he went to the Govt General Hospital (GGH), Kurnool. After clinical examinations, the Medical Officer advised Surgery. But as the GGH is declared a COVID Hospital, surgery was not conducted there. Hence he was suggested to go to a private hospital. As Prasad had undergone a bypass surgery a few years back, the doctors also apprehended complications.
After consultations with relatives and well-wishers,  Prasad was admitted to a nursing home at Nandyal on  July 1, 2020. He was successfully operated upon at  4 PM. He regained consciousness by evening and ate dillies at 9 p.m. By 11 pm he was injected to get relief from pain. He fell asleep. When his wife woke up at 4 a.m. only to observe that he was not breathing, pulse stopped and the body was cold. He was declared dead owing to a massive heart attack between 12 midnight and 3 am in the intervening night of 1st and 2nd July 2020.
As Dr APJ Abdul Kalam said about his father, Jainullahbuddin no flags were downed nor burial was done with state honors, in memory of Siva Prasad. “Earth received an honored guest.”
I have lost a friend of 55 years and the society a noble son. I have two points to make.
Bathrooms in most of the houses are built with smooth slippery tiles and stones. Stress is given to their glaze rather than the utility value. The steps are not even 3ft wide.  Railings on the steps are so smooth; you can’t hold them with a grip.

Balance issues, weakness, age-related frailty, and sometimes cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s also can make the simple usage of bathroom difficult and even dangerous. It is a much-neglected aspect of our households. It is surprising that we give short shrift to the minor but very important aspect of our lives. Few people keep in mind the dignity and the need to make bathroom visits safer and untiring.
Lights are installed opposite the sitting and sleeping areas. They must be either behind the back or above or at least by the side to avoid reflection and shadow.
The living floor area must be covered with single polished marble or granite so that the water on the floor is clearly seen and slipping avoided. Designers and builders must advise the owners to go in for not so smooth /rough materials.
KC Kalkura
House owners must realize the risk lurking in the fancy materials and better avoid them for safety.  The entire house and the rooms in the lodgings must be designed to suit the age and health of the occupants.  Furniture’s, utilities and linen, used and the arrangements made must be congenial to health and convenience. Medical advice also must be sought.
The second point that I want to make is regarding COVID Hospitals. Siva Prasad’s is not an isolated incident.  There are many other suffering patients. Private hospitals can be declared COVID and the government should ensure that the services in the Govt Hospitals are not disturbed. In the case of Siva Prasad, there was a delay of more than 48 hours in moving about 300 km from one place to another. He must have undergone tension.  That might have prejudicially affected his health.  COVID patients are directly admitted and are not moved.
 There are complaints from many more quarters also, not only from AP  but across the country. There are some medical complications more serious than COVID  such as heart and pregnancy which need immediate attention. Of course, pregnancy is not a disease.  But it concerns two lives.  What a horrendous situation in making the patient move from pillar to post just to get himself admitted, in his critical moment.
A news report in The Hindu “5 hospitals in 12 hours: A pregnant woman’s ordeal during a pandemic” (2-7-2020) shows how a 22-year-old pregnant woman, in an advanced stage of labor was refused admission in at least five Hospitals in the Bengaluru. A similar tragedy occurred in Telangana’s Gadwal district as well. But the unfortunate woman Jeneela, who was denied admission in six hospitals finally died along with her new-born child.

6 ఆసుపత్రులు తిరిగి చనిపోయిన గర్భిణి మృతి మీద హైకోర్టు విచారణ

 Already in pain, Mamta Arun spent 12 hours in an Autoriksha as her family went from one hospital to another seeking admission.  She was finally admitted to KC General Hospital (Malleswaram) around 12.00 p.m. on Thursday. (2-7-2020). Imagine the agony she might have undergone while she was transported in autos. Daily, media report more such pathetic and at times also tragic news.
I posted the above message in the Osmania Alumni Whatsapp Group. The post received touching condolences.  One of them from Dr Jagannath Rao, a Physicist from the Indian Institute of Science. The post deserves to be shared as it deals with the bathroom arrangements, particularly for the elders.
“Dear Kalkura Sir, it is saddening to hear from you the loss of a friend of 55 years. May his soul rest in peace and God almighty give strength to bear the loss of their beloved? Yes, you are very right in suggesting avoiding glossy tiles in bathrooms and toilets. We should always keep in mind the utility value, not all the time appearance. Long term planning should be kept in mind when constructing residences, handrails in bathroom and toilets, along the staircase, Western commodes, get into the habit of using a sturdy wooden or plastic stool to take bath, etc.”
He also conversed with me. He suggested a five-legged stool in the bathroom and two dry towels to rub the wet feet.
This is Dr. Rao’s effective solution to prevent falls in the bathroom and the entire family also can reap the benefits. Something like this is what I was trying to convey to you.  With minimal investment, all of us can have, not just 5’’, but 7’’ luxury, bathroom facility in the comfort of our homes.”
“Lead Kindly Light “is the motto of Osmania College,  Kurnool.  It is the first line of the poem titled “The Pillar of the Cloud.” by Cardinal John Henry Newman.  The first stanza reads:
Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.
(KC Kalkura is a Kurnool based advocate)