A pregnant woman lost her unborn twin children on Sunday after she was allegedly turned away by three hospitals in Kerala. The woman, a native of Malappuram, visited the Manjeri Medical College hospital and two other places before finally being admitted to the Kozhikode Medical College hospital. On Sunday, she lost her twins after an emergency C Section was performed.
The woman’s husband has now alleged that three of the hospitals refused to admit his wife, citing the need for COVID tests to be done. The delay in getting treatment led to the death of the babies, he added, speaking to the media on Sunday.
On September 15, 20-year-old Shahala had recovered from COVID-19 and had been discharged. A native of Kizhishery in Malappuram, Shahala was first taken to the Manjeri Medical College hospital on September 18 when she had pain. Though she was discharged as it was false labour pain, the mistreatment at the hospital made the young couple look for another hospital. But a private hospital they approached categorically said that they would not admit any pregnant women who had tested coronavirus positive once.
It was while the search for a hospital was going on that Shahala experienced labour pain on on Saturday (September 26), she was rushed to the hospital around 4.30 am.
However, her husband Shareef told the media that the hospital turned them away stating that they only treat coronavirus positive patients. She was later referred to the Kottaparambu government hospital in Kozhikode. When the couple reached the Kottaparambu hospital on Saturday afternoon, there were reportedly told that there were no doctors at the gynaecology department andwere asked to go to the Kozhikode Medical College hospital.
According to Shareef, the couple were also asked to check private hospitals in Kozhikode as the medical college would be very crowded. Following this, Shareef rang up a private hospital in Omassery who insisted that a RT-PCR test be done and a COVID-19 negative certificate be produced before admitting the patient.
The woman was finally admitted to the Kozhikode Medical College after an antigen test conducted on her by the Mukkam KMCT Medical College and it showed her to be negative. On Sunday, an emergency C section survey was conducted on the woman who suffered severe bleeding and pain. However, the foetuses had died by then. The family has now sought action against the Manjeri Medical College hospital.
“Can you imagine the pain when the amniotic sac is ruptured and water flows and the hospital still refuses treatment asking, “are you a covid patient”. All of this my wife had to endure. We didn’t even get justice from a government hospital. We had to travel hours together to get my wife, who was 9 months pregnant, admitted to a hospital. This did not happen in Uttar Pradesh. It happened in Malappuram and Kozhikode," NC Shareef stated in a social media post.
Prior to this, the couple had enquired about treatment at the Edavanna EMC hospital. However, the authorities refused to admit them, Shareef says. "The managing director or the hospital spoke to me in a very cordial way and said that he will speak to the doctor and find out. Since my wife was Covid positive once, it could happen again. Hence we were asked to enquire at another hospital. (The hospital was not ready to accept the antigen certificate issued by the government which stated that we were covid negative)," he said.
Health Minister KK Shailaja has now promised the couple that the alleged lapses on the part of the hospitals will be probed.
Meanwhile, Malappuram District Medical Officer (DMO), health, Dr K Sakeena, has sought a report from the superintendent of the Manjeri Medical College hospital.
"The health minister spoke to Dr Sakeena and asked for an inquiry into the incident. She also promised action against those who were responsible for the medical negligence. The minister and the DMO also rang up the Kozhikode Medical College hospital...This should not happen again. Action should be taken against Manjeri Medical College hospital authorities. From government hospitals, authorities give antigen test results to state that patient has tested negative for coronavirus. Only then, they send them back home. There should be an order to get private hosptials to accept these results. Otherwise, it would be routine for hospitals to reject treatment to COVID-19 negative pregnant women in the state," Shareef added.
A translation of Shareef's Facebook post
Yesterday was the first time I burst into tears. My wife is nine months pregnant. She was confirmed to have COVID-19 on September 5 and was undergoing treatment at Manjeri Medical College. DMO Dr. Sakina, Nodal Officer Dr. P. Shinas Babu and Dr. Rahana of Gynecology Department gave her all support. On the 15th, she returned home negative. She was admitted to a hospital in Manjeri again on the night of the 18th after she experienced severe pain. She was admitted to the labor room and treated very badly by an employee. But we tried to forget it and did not want to make an issue.
My wife however cried saying that she wanted to be taken to the Manjeri Medical College and that she was scared. Following the same, last Friday I went to Edavanna EMC Hospital with her Covid negative certificate. The managing director of the hospital was very polite and said he would ask the doctor. I prayed fervently. 'It was not her fault that she got COVID-19, this should not obstruct her treatment’. But the result was disappointing. The response from Edavanna EMC was that once you have been infected with COVID-19 you may get sick again and you should seek treatment in other hospitals. (Antigen testing certificates issued by the government were not considered as proof of cure).
On Saturday morning, she experienced severe pain in his abdomen and buttocks. At 4.30 am I took her to Manjeri Medical College. She was taken to the labor room but they did not want to admit her in the hospital. They said they would only treat covid patients. When I told them there was no way and private hospitals were refusing, they insisted that they can't treat her.
The labor room said that she no longer had pain and could be discharged. I asked to be referred somewhere. At my request, the report was prepared at 8.30 and we were referred to the Government Hospital at Kottaparambu in Kozhikode. But another doctor came meanwhile and said that she was in severe pain and that it was better not to leave the medical college. But she had already been referred to Kozhikode and we had to leave with no justice from Manjeri Medical College.
It must have been 11.45 am when we left. On the way to the hospital in Kottaparambu, Kozhikode, she started crying loudly. She clung onto me. But my words of consolation could not overcome the pain she was experiencing. When we reached Kottaparambu Hospital the time was 1.38 pm. Here, she was referred to the Kozhikode Medical College as there were no doctors in the gynecology department. They also warned us that the medical college may be crowded and it would be better to choose another hospital if possible.
Following this, I called Omassery Santhi Hospital, they asked if I have her Covid negative certificate. Kovid asked if he had the certificate. I told them we had a certificate from Manjeri Medical College but they said it was not enough and insisted on an RT PCR test. When there was no other way to get treatment, I went to Kozhikode Ashwani Lab and sought information about the test. The reply was that the result would be available only after 24 hours. I called Omassery Hospital and told them about this and yet they refused to give treatment. She began to cry due to excruciating pain. I called Omassery Hospital again and asked for help and treatment. But they insisted that treatment could not be given without RT PCR test.
Then I called Mukkam KMCT Medical College. Realizing my plight, they offered to treat me. Antigen test was performed. The result was negative. After scanning he was referred to Kozhikode Medical College.
By then Health Minister Shailaja Teacher and Malappuram DMO Dr. Sakina called me after learning about the neglect we faced. The minister said that things should not have happened and action would be taken against those who erred. She told us not to be afraid and to do whatever is necessary. The Minister and the DMO called Kozhikode Medical College.
This should not be repeated. Action should be taken against the doctors at Manjeri Medical College. Private hospitals should be told to accept the antigen test results that the government gives. If this does not happen, the denial of treatment to pregnant women with Covid-19 will continue.