Mahadevi Yadav sits quietly on her wheelchair, gazing away into nothingness. Amidst the flurry of activity at the KEM Hospital in Parel, she only has her blankets for company besides an occasional person who asks her about her health.
Security staffers at KEM hospital say they offer tea and snacks to Mahadevi Yadav. An occasional visitor also asks her for her well-being
The 85-year-old is suffering from gangrene in both her legs, and her son dumped her on the hospital premises after learning that the possibility of survival was low post-operation. Since he refused to sign the consent form for the surgery, the hospital, too, cannot admit her.
Mahadevi has been suffering from the infection since September 10, and her son Avdesh, who works as a security guard at Utpal Sanghvi School in Juhu, brought her to the civic-run hospital on November 14. After a primary check-up, doctors suggested that the only possible option was surgical amputation of both her legs.
“Considering her age, we suggested the surgery as soon as possible. But we also informed the patient that the survival rate in elderly patients is quite low after such severe operations. On hearing this, the patient’s relative wasn’t willing to undergo the operation.
We couldn’t admit her, since the patient wasn’t undergoing a surgery,” said a hospital doctor on the condition of anonymity. He added that, considering the necessity of treatment, they asked the patient to visit the hospital on alternate days for primary medication and wound bandaging.
Avdesh did as required till November 27, showing up for OPD check-ups. Thereafter, he surmised he couldn’t bear the expenses of travel any more the family stays in Andheri and decided to leave her in a wheelchair at the hospital, near the chemist counter.
“In thirteen days, I spent over Rs 10,000 on her medication and transportation. I realised it would be difficult to carry on like this. We couldn’t even keep her at home because of the stench of the wound and continuous pus discharge. Even at home, she would only sit on a chair because it is very difficult for her to get up once she lies down.
I thought it would be the same here as well,” said the 42-year-old Avdesh, who claimed he visited her twice a day once in the morning and once at night to change her clothes and help her with food and water.
However, security personnel at the gate number 3 of the hospital confirmed that the man is seen once in two days, and leaves as soon as her OPD visit is done. When asked if he wasn’t worried about her feeling cold at night, Avdesh replied that he had wrapped her in enough blankets to keep her warm.
Invisible in plain sight
It has been more than a month that Mahadevi has been sitting at the same spot, but even the security staff on duty hasn’t noticed the woman’s 24-hour presence, and no report of the case has been registered with their authorities. “We have taken notice of the woman and we also help her with snacks or tea.
But, we are soon to report the incident to our higher authorities since such abandoned patients cannot stay in the hospital premises for such a long time,” said Rahul Chavan, a security guard at gate no 3. He said
he and the other guards occasionally check on the woman, just to make sure that she is alive.
Because she is right next to the chemist counter, an empathetic visitor, too, tries making conversation. But, since Mahadevi speaks only Bhojpuri, nobody can understand what she says. In such cases, a report needs to be filed with the police, who ensure the relatives either admit the patient or take him/her away.
A constable from the Bhoiwada police station, which has a chowky inside the hospital, said that a medico-legal complaint had been filed by a relative of another patient at the hospital on December 2, but Avdesh came and claimed responsibility for his mother and assured that he would take her home.
The constable said the police are not taking any action since the hospital authorities haven’t brought it to their notice officially. While the buck is being passed around, Mahadevi is set to spend a few more cold nights, shivering and grimacing in pain, and hoping and praying someone hopefully her own son will take care of her.
Even hospital authorities do not know of the woman’s situation. Shubhangi Parkar, dean, KEM Hospital, said she wasn’t aware of the matter. “Many relatives abandon their patients in our premises and leave the responsibility on the shoulders of the hospital. This is unacceptable behaviour. I wasn’t aware of the issue at all, but I’ll take the necessary steps.
We will have to report the incident to the Bhoiwada police station immediately.” When asked why the hospital didn’t admit the patient when her relatives refused to let her undergo the surgery, she said that it is not possible for the hospital to act on their own accord and they need a relative’s approval for any treatment they undertake.