COVID-19: Family finds Thane man still in ICU three days after cremation

Updated: Jul 08, 2020, 10:26 IST | Diwakar Sharma, Sameer Markande | Mumbai

After performing the last rites to a wrapped body handed over to them by Thane COVID Hospital on July 3, shocked family of 67-year-old told by doctors he is still alive

Balchandra Gaikwad, 71, whose body was handed over to the Sonwane family claiming that it was of their father Janardhan Sonawane, 67 (right) Sixty-seven-year-old Janardan Shankar Sonawane. Pic/Sameer Markande
Balchandra Gaikwad, 71, whose body was handed over to the Sonwane family claiming that it was of their father Janardhan Sonawane, 67 (right) Sixty-seven-year-old Janardan Shankar Sonawane. Pic/Sameer Markande

In a case of gross misman-agement that has caused two families unnecessary grief, a civic-run COVID-19 hospital, Thane Global Impact Hub in Kalwa, handed a body wrapped and taped in a PPE suit to a family saying their relative, Janardhan Sonawane, 67, had died. However, a few days later, the family got to know that Sonawane is alive and the body they cremated was of Bhalchandra Gaikwad, 71.

Sonawane's son Sandeep received a call from the Thane hospital at 6.30 am on July 3 informing him that he had died of COVID-19. "We reached the hospital immediately. The body was wrapped in a PPE suit and the face was not visible. We could not tell the hospital staff to show us the face as it was not advisable," said Sandeep.

Sandeep Sonawane shows the document he was made to sign by the hospital after he was told that his father is alive. Pic/Sameer MarkandeSandeep Sonawane shows the document he was made to sign by the hospital after he was told that his father is alive. Pic/Sameer Markande

"We were advised to wear a PPE suit to conduct the last rites. We followed the instructions given by the hospital staff. The last rites were conducted at Gaimukh in Bhayandar on July 4 and we all were broken after the loss that wasn't," Sonawane added.

"On the evening of July 6, I received a call from the hospital. The staff told me, 'Your father is alive'. I thought somebody is pranking me. I disconnected the call. But they called again and told me to visit the hospital. I told them I will come the next day. On July 7 morning, the Kapurbawdi police called and said the same thing. I was shocked, I never thought something like this could happen to me," Sandeep said.

Civic-run Thane Global Impact Hub. File pic
Civic-run Thane Global Impact Hub. File pic

At the hospital, Sandeep saw his father in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). "It really shocked me, at the same time I was also very happy to see my father alive," said Sandeep, adding, "I identified my father and the hospital staff told me to sign a document which had written something on it in English which I don't understand."

On the other hand, Gaikwad's son-in-law Ravindra Salvi told mid-day that the hospital staff is trying to hush up the matter.

"My father-in-law Bhalchandra Gaikwad was admitted to the hospital on June 29 at 10 pm after he tested positive for COVID-19. He died on July 3. The hospital staff is telling us that on the same day, four people had died and they got a little confused and handed my relative's body to someone else, who even conducted the last rites. This is really shameful. The hospital is now trying to hush up the matter," Salvi said.

The in-charge of the hospital, Dr. Yogesh Sharma, said, "We registered a missing persons complaint for Gaikwad at Kapurbawdi police station. An internal enquiry is underway and we have been questioning staff members to ascertain how this happened. We have not come to any conclusion yet."

A source at the hospital said, "The hospital is running with only 30 per cent staff. All the hospital workers, including doctors and nurses, are overstressed due to the pandemic. Chances are very high that made a mistake in identifying the correct relatives of the deceased and handed over the body to someone else."

There are over 640 COVID-19 patients currently admitted to the hospital. Sources said that the missing person's complaint was filed as Gaikwad was untraceable and his relatives had been looking for him. Calls and messages to the senior inspector of Kapurbawdi police station, Sanjay Nimbalkar, went unanswered.

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Day in June Bhalchandra Gaikwad was admitted

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