Few would understand their grief, so the families of those who died at Delhi’s Jaipur Golden Hospital due to oxygen supply drop last month have found support in each other, forming a WhatsApp group to share their experiences — and also prepare for the “fight” that lies ahead.
Over the night of April 23-24, 21 people had died at the hospital. Three weeks later, the families told The Sunday Express they are yet to come to terms with the loss, especially because of how they died, and due to little clarity still on what was happening inside the hospital.
Most said they started receiving vague calls from the administration from the evening of April 23, and by 2 am, news started coming in of their loved ones dying.
Sonali Goel, whose mother Nisha Goel, 59, was among the casualties, said, “That day, I had left the hospital around 5.30 pm, and around 7 pm, my brother went to give her food. He was not allowed in. The guards told him something critical had happened with some patients and nobody was allowed in. He asked about my mother and was told things were fine. He handed over the food to the hospital staff and came back home. I was quite relaxed and slept thinking she was getting better. Around 1.30 am, I got a call from the hospital asking us to reach immediately. We both rushed there, and were told she is no more… Her body was stiff; it seemed like it had been hours since she left the world… But doctors insisted it was just a few minutes ago.”
The hospital had told the High Court that the Delhi government was to blame for oxygen not reaching on time. However, the government claimed that its inquiry had shown the patients died of ‘respiratory failure’ and not oxygen shortage.
To the families of the dead, these arguments are of little consequence. Many are planning to take legal action against the hospital, and exchange notes on the WhatsApp group.
Gaurav Gera, whose father Charanjit Gera (49) died at the hospital, says he also lost his mother to Covid as she couldn’t get an ICU bed in time. Recalling his father’s last hours, he says, “Around 2 am, my cousin got a call from the hospital that something serious has happened and we should reach soon. By the time we got there, my father was no more. We were told that he died of oxygen shortage, but the death certificate had no mention of this.”
“I wish we were told the hospital was short of oxygen, I would have arranged a cylinder. This is unpardonable; they have to answer for his death,” Gera says.
Erick Massey, who lost his mother Delphin Massey that night, recalls that on April 22, the family did a video call with her as it was her birthday. “She looked good and she was gesturing as she could not speak because of the oxygen mask. She was sitting properly and the call went on for about 5-6 minutes… On April 23, I went and checked and a nurse said she was doing fine. On April 24, around 2.30 am, I got a call from the hospital saying she had suffered cardiac arrest and could not be revived. I asked if I could come to the hospital and they said it’s better if I came in the morning. I reached around 7:30 am and went inside the ICU… The whole room was silent with hardly one or two patients alive… I went to the reception where other families had gathered, and realised what had happened… Most of the people said their family members were fine until April 23 night and then they got a sudden call from the hospital. If the hospital had informed us on time, we could have arranged something or asked the authorities to do something,” he says.
Massey says he spoke to three families and decided to form a WhatsApp group called ‘Jaipur Golden Case’ on May 10, and that more families were added later. “We shared details of an advocate, who offered to pursue our case. We decided to be on one platform so that tomorrow, if there’s an enquiry, we can approach authorities together.”