Turned away by Thane's Kalwa hospital, Bihar migrant with COVID-19 symptoms found after 2 days languishing on footpath

This is the story of Sugrim Mahto, a migrant worker Bihar's Saran district, who like millions others, decided to walk back home because his source of income had dried up and survival had become difficult due to stringent nationwide lockdown imposed two months ago.

Ananya Srivastava May 19, 2020 15:40:10 IST
Turned away by Thane's Kalwa hospital, Bihar migrant with COVID-19 symptoms found after 2 days languishing on footpath

A 24-year-old migrant labourer, who exhibited symptoms for COVID-19 , was denied treatment and left on the roads for three days in Thane district, before political intervention could get him a bed in the district's civic-run hospital.

This is the story of Sugrim Mahto, a migrant worker Bihar's Saran district, who like millions others, decided to walk back home because his source of income had dried up and survival had become difficult due to stringent nationwide lockdown imposed two months ago.

Mahato, currently, is being treated in a Thane district hospital which is dedicated for COVID-19 patients. Mahato has been kept under observation and in isolation but the doctors have not yet been able to confirm if Mahato is coronavirus positive.

Watch the video, where Mahto describes how he was turned away from the Kalwa hospital, before he ended up at this footpath.

Turned away by Thanes Kalwa hospital Bihar migrant with COVID19 symptoms found after 2 days languishing on footpath

Sugrim Mahato was found living on a footpath outside Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital in Kalwa, Thane.

Last week, Mahto had paid a truck driver to take him to his native place in Bihar over 1,700 kilometres away from Mumbai. However, he was abandoned on the Eastern Express Highway after he exhibited COVID-19 symptoms.

He was languishing in fever when a a group of activists, who were out distributing food and water bottles to migrant workers walking home, found Mahto.

Dipesh Tank, a Mumbai-based anti-trafficking activist, spotted Mahato lying on a piece of cardboard by the roadside on Friday. When Tank asked Mahto about his whereabouts, he sounded slightly "dazed and sloshy". Mahato informed Tank that he has fever and wants to go back to his home.

"We asked him if he had eaten anything, but he said he was having difficulty swallowing. This is when we decided that we cannot leave him there. I tried to get some medicines from nearby areas and called for an ambulance from the local hospital. But the medicine shops were all closed," Tank told Firstpost.

Tank had waited for the ambulance and asked the driver to take Mahato to a hospital. Mahato was untraceable for two days since then. Efforts by Tank and Firstpost to find out Mahato's whereabouts drew a blank.  The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital in Kalwa, where Mahato was originally sent, said they never admitted a patient under that name. The Kalwa Police Station said they have no information about the incident.

Meanwhile, Tank and his friends set out to find Mahato themselves since authorities were of no help. On Monday, they found him on a footpath outside the Kalwa hospital. Mahato told Tank that he was turned away by the hospital without treatment.

"We couldn't wait to find out what had happened to him from the authorities. As we had feared, they had thrown him out on the road as he didn’t have anyone along with him to fulfill his admission formalities/paperwork. He was in bad shape and exhibited all the symptoms," Tank said.

Tank shared with Firstpost a video of Mahato narrating his ordeal. "Vo log bhaga diya wahan se, kehta hai guardian lagega. Koi sathme aadmi leke aao. (They sent me away from the hospital saying I should come back with a guardian or a family member)," Mahato is heard saying in the video. Mahato had cough and fever and complained of leg and stomach ache.

The 24-year-old worker has no relatives except one uncle who is in Bihar and a sister who is married and lives in Maharashtra. Firstpost has informed the police in Mahato's village and has requested that his relatives be informed about his situation.

However, Mahato was lucky, says Tank. He was among the few who was spotted by the activists who helped him out. Tank's tweet went viral on social media, with Maharashtra Education Minister Aaditya Thackeray and Bihar Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav taking note of the case. Despite that, Mahato had to be rescued twice and was left to languish on the streets without treatment for three days.

It is still unknown how many people Mahato came in contact with before he was finally admitted into the hospital. Tank had contacted Kalyan MP Shrikant Shinde, who was already apprised of Mahato's case, when Tank had first found him on the highway. Shinde finally made arrangements for Mahato to be admitted to Thane civic hospital, as the hospital in Kalwa had no vacancy in the isolation ward.

Firstpost attempted to reach the Thane police station and the Kalwa hospital several times but there was no response. The article will be updated as and when they do.

Speaking to Firstpost, Shinde said that "Aditya ji called me and asked me to look after the guy" after Tank's tweet went viral. "We, however, found him after one day and admitted him to civic hospital. He had all the COVID-19 symptoms and he was on the streets,” Shinde told Firstpost, adding that Maharashtra government will make arrangements to send him back to Bihar after he recovers.

Shinde denied that Mahato was turned away from the Kalwa hospital, however, also acknowledged that he was left on the streets. "Yes, he was out on the streets. But now we are taking care of him. Hospital has already begun his treatment,” Shinde said.

When asked what efforts were being taken to establish whether he came in contact with anyone else, Shinde said that the hospital will work on it and check his contact history.

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