Guj hospital refuses to give suspected COVID-19 victim’s body over dues, ‘seizes’ kin’s car

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Valsad, Apr 15 (PTI) The management of a COVID-19 hospital at Vapi town in Gujarat's Valsad district allegedly refused to hand over the body of a suspected coronavirus patient to her relatives to recover the bill dues, following which the authorities on Thursday ordered an inquiry into the incident, an official said.

The relatives also alleged that the hospital management even seized their car in exchange of the body, and asked them to take back the vehicle only after settling the bill dues.

On learning about the alleged incident through media reports, Valsad district collector RR Raval ordered an inquiry into the incident through a committee.

The collector also revoked the permission granted to the 21st Century Hospital to treat coronavirus patients.

“Moreover, it is also a matter of investigation as to how the hospital handed over the body to the relatives if the woman was admitted as a suspected coronavirus patient. We will take appropriate action against the hospital after getting the inquiry report,' Raval said.

The woman, a suspected coronavirus patient, was admitted to the hospital on March 31. She died on April 12, her relative Sanjay Halpati said.

'We had deposited Rs 40,000 in the hospital at the time of admission. After her death, when we sought the possession of the body, the hospital management asked us to clear the dues first. They threatened us that the hospital will dispose of the body if we fail to claim it after clearing the dues,” Halpati told reporters on Wednesday.

'When I said I don't have money and urged them to give me a day’s time, they asked me to keep my car as guarantee till I deposit the money. After giving them my car, we took possession of the body. We then took back our car the next day after clearing the dues,' Halpati claimed.

In its defence, the hospital management claimed that they never forced anyone to clear the dues.

'We never forced anyone to clear the dues. We continued the treatment even as they had deposited only Rs 40,000 in the beginning while the bill went over Rs 2 lakh,” said Dr. Akshay Nadkarni of the hospital.

“The woman suffered from several co-morbidities and it was a suspected case of coronavirus, not a confirmed one. That is why we handed over the body,' he said. PTI COR PJT PD NP