COVID-19 patient K Ehambaran from Sungai Petani could have been saved had there been medical personnel stationed in the ward of the old Sungai Petani COVID-19 Hospital.
According to his daughter E Chitradevi, who lodged a police report this morning in Sungai Petani, her father was admitted to the hospital on Aug 26, due to “severe COVID-19 pneumonia”.
When she called the ward on Aug 29, she was told by one of the hospital staff that the father was in good condition.
It was on Aug 30 that she came to know through a video on Whatsapp that her father had died.
The video showed her father struggling to get up from the bed and it was cut short to continue with the footage showing her father lying motionless on the floor with another patient trying to revive him.
Chitradevi, in her police report, raised the question whether her father died as result of the fall from the bed or he died as result of the severe COVID-19 pneumonia.
The Kedah Health Department director Dr Othman Warijo was hasty in his response to this incident. Rather than investigating the death, he denied allegation that no hospital staff attended to Ehambaran.
Nevertheless, he said that a full investigation would be conducted to ascertain the cause of the death.
Although Ehambaran died on Aug 30, there seems no urgency for a full investigation. When it comes to the matters of life and death, I do not know why the Kedah Heath Department is dragging its feet on the matter.
If Othman had not investigated the matter, then why blindly deny the allegation that hospital staff was not present?
Yes, Ehambaran was a COVID-19 patient, he was brought in for treatment. He might have fallen from the bed before he unsuccessfully sought to get up.
It was not a hopeless case. He could have been saved had there been hospital staff present. The matter of him falling down and getting up must have a taken a few minutes, but what happened to the staff?
Why were they missing, was it because they decided that the patient cannot be saved? Why would Othman blindly defend the staff but in actual fact, there was no one available?
If Othman cannot take up responsibility, then the honourable thing for him to do is to resign. Those staff were supposed to have been present should be sacked for dereliction of duty.
And I wonder what would be the response of the newly minted Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin. Is he going to take action on those responsible for Ehambaran’s death? Or is it that his death going to be just another number, in the long list of those died of COVID-19 infection?
But in the case of Ehambaran, he he could have been alive today if the hospital staff had attended to him.
The pandemic is severe but particularly nasty on the poor and members of the working class.
Public hospitals are for the poor and the unfortunate, but sadly Ehambaran’s family has found out that even the poor have no place in public hospitals.
COVID-19 is a killer disease but with care and understanding, lives can be saved. Unfortunately, Ehambaran was chucked in the ward to fend for himself and he died a terrible death.
Shame on the old Sungai Petani Hospital, a hospital that has been converted to treat COVID-19 patients. – Aug 31, 2021.
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also deputy chief minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.