COVID-19: These private doctors died saving Maharashtra; kin in massive debt
Families of several sole-earning private doctors who died in the line of duty battling COVID in Maharashtra narrate their plight, financial burden and the uncertainty ahead
WHEN the government asked for the help of private doctors amid the overwhelming rise in COVID-19 cases, they stepped forward and in the process, 58 of them died of the virus. But, today, their families have been denied the R50-lakh insurance cover. The families, most of whom have lost their sole breadwinner, ask the government why they have been left out of the financial support scheme meant for the Corona Warriors.
mid-day on Thursday reached out to families of some of the deceased doctors from Thane, Ahmednagar and other parts of the state. Many of them are survived by elderly parents, wives and newborns, left without financial support.
Dr Vilas Kakade
Dr Advait Kakade, 32, son of the late Dr Vilas Kakade, had a similar opinion about the compensation for the Corona Warriors. Advait lost his 65-year-old father to COVID-19 in July. Dr Vilas, an MBBS hailing from Karjat taluka, Ahmednagar, was practicing and taking care of asymptomatic COVID-19 patients.
Advait said, "My father had no health problem but he suddenly developed fever. Many patients came with complaints of fever and my father came in direct contact with them to take their temperature. He saw about 60-70 patients daily."
"In the second week of July, my father developed symptoms and he did a routine blood test and found that his platelet level had dropped. He suspected it to be a case of dengue or malaria, so he did further tests but all reports came back negative. By then, his symptoms had aggravated and he died during the course of treatment a few days later."
"We hope the government will keep its promise and help the poor families with monetary help, by clearing the insurance papers. Otherwise, many innocent poor people will be left in the lurch as their sole breadwinner is no more," said Advait.
Dr Akshay Thakur
Life had never been so cruel for the Thakur family of Upawan, Thane West. The elderly parents of Dr Akshay Thakur, 29, could not even get a glimpse of their son on July 5 when he breathed his last at a private hospital in Navi Mumbai.
His mother Prathiba, 56, who was undergoing treatment for COVID-19 in the general ward of the same hospital, had spoken to him on the morning of July 2, as he was wheeled out of the ICU, where he was on a ventilator for almost eight days.
"Aai, I am fine now, I will be discharged in the next two days," Akshay had told his mother. But, by evening his health started deteriorating and he was put on ventilator support again.
Shocked by Akshay's demise, father Deepak suffered a heart attack and mother's health also started deteriorating. Now, Deepak is running around for the insurance cover the government had assured for the frontline warriors.
"All my retirement funds were used in Akshay's dental education and he was now taking care of us. I do not have pension or a source of income. Akshay was to get married in the coming few weeks, we were all happy, and were looking forward to settling with our daughter-in-law [a lawyer]. But we had to sell even the jewelleries that Akshay had bought for his would-be wife for our treatment. We still owe R14 lakh to people who helped us for the treatment. Also, rent of Akshay's clinic in Ulwe and the EMIs on the loan for buying the dental chair have not been paid for the past six months. Akshay had never taken any life insurance either," said Deepak.
"My wife and I have no financial support now. Our elder daughter is married and is a school teacher earning a mere R8,000, which is approximate monthly expenses towards our medicine. Akshay used to take care of our medicines," he added.
Deepak told mid-day that after their insistence on being safe amid the deadly virus outbreak, Akshay used to visit his clinic daily on alternate days.
Deepak said, "We were against Akshay going to the clinic, but he made us understand that toothache can become unbearable at times and if he won't keep his clinic open patients will have to continue bearing the pain for long, which was not in the interest of patients and after much pursuance, he agreed to visit the clinic on alternate days."
He said the problem started on June 19, when Akshay had fever, but after taking some rest he was fine and started visiting the clinic. However, his health started deteriorating and on July 22 we took him to Apollo hospital, CBD, where the doctors started the COVID-19 treatment, but we were told that the daily expenses would be over R90,000, which we could not afford. We looked for beds in other hospitals and finally shifted Askhay to Panvel civic hospital on July 23, and with no treatment coming his way, Akshay started becoming breathless and was shifted to Reliance hospital, Khoparkairane, where he was put on ventilator support, said the father.
"We have lost our son who was everything to us. We have no source of income and the health officials who were talking to me initially, have now stopped answering my calls. The frontline health workers started keeping their clinic open as per the government directive and even they were assured insurance coverage for Corona warriors. Then, why are we made to suffer?" asked Deepak.
Dr Dnyaneshwar Bhosale
Dr Dnyaneshwar, 36, was the only paediatrician from his village, Mortalwadi, in Latur district. He had started his 25-bed paediatric hospital with eight NICU bed facilities in Udgir just 10 months back. He had taken a loan of Rs 25 lakh from two banks to start his 'Bhosale Children Hospital'.
His younger brother Taterao Bhosale, 29, told mid-day, "My brother was passionate about the hospital and for over two months, he was personally supervising the entire set up. His practice was an inspiration for many youngsters from our village."
Our father, Ramesh, 58, a retired school teacher, had sold his farms to ensure Dnyaneshwar completed his MBBS and then the higher studies in paediatric care. He was taking care of his patients even during the lockdown. We were also excited about welcoming a new member in the family as his wife Priyanka, 27, was due for delivery of their second child.
On July 8, my brother complained of breathing difficulty and we took him to a local doctor, who advised us to shift him to a super speciality centre, which is 250 km away in Secunderabad. He succumbed to COVID-19 on July 29, and 15 days back Priyanka delivered a baby girl.
"We approached the Indian Medical Association-Maharashtra seeking help in claiming the insurance cover of R50 lakh, which was promised by the government. But all our claims have been getting rejected. We have a massive loan of R20 lakh and yearly rent of Rs 9 lakh for the hospital. I don't know how we will pay them without financial support. Also, his children are too young, and all our dreams have been shattered," said Taterao, a software engineer in Pune.
Dr Manohar Anandhe
Dr Manohar, 66, a paediatrician was an inspiration and mentor for many young medical professionals from Chandrapur and the neighbouring districts. He was the first postgraduate paediatrician who had over 40 years of experience. Son of a poor farmer, who had no clothes, power or even sufficient food, Manohar was good at studies and got many scholarships. He set up 'Anandhe hospital' which remained operational even during the lockdown.
Dr Ajinkya, 32, his son who is doing an advanced study in Urology, said, "My father was healthy, exercised regularly and had no comorbidities. He actively looked at patients who were coming with regular fever. There were a few asymptomatic patients who cannot be identified as tests would be recommended only for symptomatic patients. My father became unwell in the third week of September and by September 17 his health started deteriorating. He breathed his last on September 18."
"I am fortunate that my father had managed to keep some savings even after giving free treatments to the poor and needy. It is unfortunate that young doctors have become victims of COVID-19 and their parents and family are left in the lurch. We hope that the government will consider the contribution of all frontline warriors who lost their lives treating COVID-19 patients and help their families monetarily," Ajinkya said.
Dr Prashant Jagtap
Dr Prashant, 32, hailed from Kuldharan village, near Ahmednagar. He was a practicing BHMS (Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery) doctor at a private hospital. He was on COVID-19 duty when he contracted the virus and died in the first week of August.
Prashant's brother Kumar Jaqtab told mid-day, "We are farmers and have sugarcane and toor crops, which seldom help us earn sufficient money. It was Prashant who supported us financially. Prashant was the most qualified member of our house, and he completed all his studies through bank loans and scholarships."
Prashant got married in May 2019 and his wife Aarti, 25, was due for delivery when she was informed about his serious health condition. She recently delivered a girl who has been named Prapthi, said Kumar.
Dr Prashant Jagtap's parents Pramod Jagtap, 60, and Ahilya Jagtap, who were dependent on their son financially
He added, "Prashant never told us about his loans. We would bother him only when we had to refer some patients from the village to Ahmednagar and he would take care of them. We have not received any financial support from the government or political leaders from our village. Our parents are too old and he was the only support for us."
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