A massive row broke out at a private hospital in Chennai on Friday amid reports that 14 patients had died reportedly after heavy rain flooded the generator room and snapped oxygen supply to those on life support.
Angry relatives thronged the MIOT hospital, accusing officials of negligence and hiding the news for several hours, though the state government said the deaths were not caused by power outage and had occurred before December 3 while families failed to collect the bodies because of the floods.
“Vadivelan met with accident on Sunday at Puducherry. We immediately brought him to MIOT thinking it’s the best hospital,” said Prakash T, a relative of the 34-year-old victim. “They did not admit him until we paid Rs 2 lakh. Yesterday, they made us pay Rs 5.5 lakh saying it’s an emergency. Only after we paid did they tell us the emergency was that Vadivelan had died.”
TV reports said the hospital had been flooded since Tuesday after some of the worst rain in decades left much of the city under water and the institute had sent out an SOS message the same day saying it was running out of food and water.
Pandemonium broke out at a government press conference in the evening as health secretary J Radhakrishnan stumbled for answers in the face of a torrent of questions from reporters over the deaths.
Later, Radhakrishnan said he had noticed bodies of 14 patients, who died due to medical reasons, at the hospital’s mortuary. According to the institute, the bodies were not taken by relatives because of the floods.
“I learnt about his death through the media,” said a relative of 65-year-old Ratan Raj. “We had to struggle to put every rupee together for the treatment but we didn’t mind because the other option was to go to a government hospital where the services are so poor that even healthy people don’t survive.”
Most of the 350 patients from the hospital have been moved to other facilities while only around 70 are receiving care.
“Our generators got submerged. Water rose to the first floor. People on critical care, ventilators could not be saved,” MIOT managing director Prithvi Mohandas told HT. “There was no negligence on our part. We were not prepared for this.”