Coronavirus outbreak: Absence of public transport leaves dialysis, chemo patients in lurch

Updated: Mar 28, 2020, 11:03 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

In the absence of public transport, patients and their relatives are struggling to reach hospitals, and are worried about the coming weeks

Meenakshi Fernandes with daughter Rosemary
Meenakshi Fernandes with daughter Rosemary

The lockdown restrictions have especially affected those who need to visit hospitals frequently. Patients, who need dialysis or chemotherapy, are struggling to find transport for their sessions and are scared about the weeks to come.

It was a nightmare for Rosemary Fernandes, 25, to arrange transportation for her mother Meenakshi, 60, who needs dialysis thrice a week. "I have a bike but my mother cannot travel on a two-wheeler. Auto rickshaws aren't willing to go and only person is allowed in an auto. Neighbours refused to lend their cars," she said.

Rosemary and her mother live in Vakola and she has to take her mother to Holy Family Hospital in Bandra West for her four-hour-long dialysis session.

Desperate, Rosemary took to social media to connect with politicians for help. A Bandra resident offered to lend them his car till the lockdown ends. "I am lucky that someone offered to help. But so many others are struggling," she said.

Meenakshi Fernandes
Sudha Hariharan

Sudha Hariharan, a 65-year-old Chembur resident, who needs to go to Surana Sethia Hospital for dialysis also felt there is a lot of apprehension among other patients. "Although the hospital is close-by, I was anxious about getting there," Sudha said.

Just the way Election Commission makes arrangement for senior citizens or the differently abled during polls, the local councillor can arrange transport for people, especially senior citizens, who need to visit the hospital, Sudha said.

Hospitals feel that local police are not adhering to lockdown guidelines that exempt medical cases or emergencies.

Felix Fernandes, the finance director at the Holy Family, said, "We have been giving medical certificates to patients in case the police stop them. The regulations are in place but the police and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) need to be sensitised so that they don't stop vehicles ferrying patients or medical supplies."

Cancer patients are also facing similar issues and the administration of Tata Memorial Hospital is trying to make arrangements for them.

Dr C S Pramesh, the director of the Tata Memorial Hospital, said, "Some patients are facing difficulty reaching the hospital due to lack of public transport and cabs. We are speaking with BEST to see if we can get some buses for our patients."

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