• MLA Eknath Khadse’s intervention couldn’t help Vaishali Nikam
  • She was made to wait outside JJ Hospital in an ambulance
  • Sshe was brought to city from Jalgaon after her health deteriorated
A 23-year-old pregnant woman and her unborn child died in an ambulance that was parked outside the state-run Sir JJ Hospital on Saturday morning. The woman had waited for nearly an hour for doctors and other staff to wheel her inside the hospital and attend to her.

The on-duty medical officer at the hospital apparently cited a shortage of ventilators and said there were no beds in the ICU to keep the woman, Vaishali Nikam, waiting in the ambulance.

Even the intervention of MLA Ekanath Khadse could not save Nikam. Khadse had tried calling JJ Hospital Dean SD Nanadkar, and Medical Superintendent Dr Sanjay Surase, but said their numbers had been switched off. Khadse even raised the issue of Nikam’s death during the ongoing assembly, and said he had struggled to help her.

Khadse said the young mother-to-be had travelled all the way from Jalgaon to Mumbai, but died outside the hospital because of the nonavailability of ventilators.

The Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) has initiated an enquiry into Nikam’s death and accepted that she had been kept waiting outside JJ Hospital.

Journey from Jalgaon to Mumbai

A Resident of Jalgaon, Nikam, who was due for delivery, was initially taken to Jalgaon Civil Hospital after she experienced breathing difficulties. Doctors at Jalgaon Civil Hospital told her husband, Samadhan, that she would have to be shifted to JJ Hospital in Mumbai for the delivery as she needed an ICU. Vaishali was brought to the city in an ambulance and reached the hospital at 5.30 am.

The casualty on-duty medical officer allegedly told Samadhan that the hospital did not have beds in the ICU, and that his wife needed a ventilator, which, too, they did not have.

The casualty medical officer kept telling us that we should take her somewhere else, as they didn’t have empty beds in the ICU. I pleaded with them, but he didn’t come out to see my wife even once.
-Samadhan (Her husband)

“The casualty medical officer kept telling us that we should take her somewhere else, as they didn’t have empty beds in the ICU. I pleaded with them, but he didn’t come out to see my wife even once,” Samadhan alleged.

For almost one hour, Nikam’s relatives struggled to try and get Vaishali admitted to JJ Hospital, but in vain.

“We started calling everyone, so that with someone’s influence my sister would get admitted in the hospital,” said Mangal Gaikwad, Vaishali’s brother. “Luckily, through someone, we got in touch with Eknath Khadse and he tried to help us, but nothing worked, we were so helpless.”

“I told the staff my wife was dying and begged them to take her in, but no one was bothered. The doctors were busy attending to other patients,” Samadhan told Mirror.

An hour later, he said he realised his wife was not responding. “We called the doctor, and this time the casualty doctor came and examined her, and told us she was no more. They could have saved my wife and unborn child, but they didn’t,” Samadhan, who works with a small company in Jalgaon, said.

He said his wife and he were thrilled to be expecting their first child. “But we never imagined this would happen. No one cares for the poor,” he said.

“Vaishali was finally wheeled into JJ Hospital around 6.30 am, where she was declared dead in the casualty ward,” her brother Mangal said.

Dr Pravin Shingare, Director of DMER, said: “Since it’s a maternal death, we have begun an inquiry. Yes, it is true that the pregnant woman was not admitted to the hospital due to the unavailability of a ventilator. We are cross-checking the doctors’ claims of the non-availability of beds and ventilators, and why she was not refereed to another centre in the city.”

Talking to Mirror, Khadse said, “It’s a clear case of negligence. The doctors did’t make any effort to admit her. When I called the medical officer of JJ Hospital to get the number of the hospital’s dean, I was told that due to protocol, they couldn’t share the numbers. When I called the operator to ask for the dean’s number, they too didn’t give it to me. Finally, when I managed to get the dean and the medical superintendent’s numbers, both numbers were switched off.”