DOC SAYS NO TO DEPOSIT IN RS 500 NOTES, BABY DIES AWAITING HELP
Cops to forward distraught parents’ complaint to the Maharashtra Medical Council.
The chaos triggered by the demonetisation of Rs 1000 and 500 currency notes claimed its first victim on Friday – a newborn in Govandi.
The infant – a boy – died a day after being denied treatment by Jeevan Jyot Hospital and Nursing Home in Govandi because his parents wanted to pay a part of the deposit in Rs 500 currency notes, which ceased to be legal tender starting Tuesday midnight.
The infant’s father Jagadish Sharma, a carpenter, visited the Shivaji Nagar police station on Friday to lodge a complaint but was advised to submit a letter which would be forwarded to the Maharashtra Medical Council.
Despite clear instructions from the government that hospitals must continue to accept Rs 1000 and 500 notes, there have been several cases of refusal of admission or treatment across the city. In a separate incident, Fortis Hospital in Kalyan was served a showcause notice on Friday by the District Civil Surgeon for not accepting Rs 1000 and 500 notes.
Sharma’s wife Kiran was under Dr Sheetal Kamath’s care at Jeevan Jyot Hospital and Nursing Home from April 18. On November 8, a day after the prime minister declared the decision to withdraw Rs 1000 and 500 notes from circulation, Kiran underwent tests at the hospital, including sonography, and was told the baby was due around December 7.
However, in the morning on November 9, Kiran went into labour and the baby was delivered in the care of relatives and neighbours. Since the baby, weighing all of 1.6 kg, was born premature and Kiran lost a lot of blood during the delivery, the family decided to rush her to Dr Kamath.
At the hospital, while Dr Kamath gave Kiran primary care, she refused to admit her because of her husband’s inability to pay the entire Rs 6,000 deposit in currency notes of denomination of Rs 100 and less. Since the banks and ATMs were shut for the day as the government grappled with the complications of removing old currency notes and replacing them with the new ones, the family requested that they be given time to get the money converted. But Dr Kamath did not relent and sent Kiran and her baby back.
When the baby’s condition worsened on Friday, the family rushed him to Dr Amit Shah in Chembur. But the infant died even as his mom and dad waited for their turn to see the doctor.
When Mumbai Mirror contacted Dr Kamath, she admitted that the primary reason to refuse admission to Kiran and her baby was the family’s inability to pay the full deposit. She, however, also added that the baby required Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) care and since her hospital did not have the facility, she suggested that the family should move the mother and the infant to Sion hospital. “I carried out the primary checkups and the necessary intervention. But she could not pay for the treatment with valid currency, so how could I forcibly admit her?”
Health Minister Dr Deepak Sawant said if he received a complaint, he will send it to the Maharashtra Medical Council for investigation. “If necessary, action will be taken under the Bombay Nursing Home Act,” he said.
Below is the audio recording of the phone call between Mirror reporter and Dr Kamath, in which she accepts that she did not admit Kiran as the family came to the hospital after the demonetisation announcement. She makes the statement before the 2 minutes 50 seconds mark
kes the statement before the 2 minutes 50 seconds mark.