12 December 2010
By Vijay Chavan
Destitute Umesh Salunkhe, fighting TB at government–run Sassoon Hospital since Nov 16, was allegedly forced to take discharge and dumped on Mutha banks with only a bedsheet and a saline drip
On Saturday, a patient suffering from tuberculosis and admitted to Sassoon Hospital was found abandoned near the banks of the Mutha river, after he was allegedly thrown out of the hospital by the staff, who forced him to take discharge as he had no one to care for him. Umesh Salunkhe (50) was finally readmitted to Sassoon Hospital after the police and passersby intervened, but not before the hospital authorities claimed he had “run away” from the hospital.
Hamid Salmani, a resident of Shivajinagar, was the first to spot Salunkhe at around 5.30 pm on Saturday, in a semi–conscious state and barely able to talk on the River Road near Tilak bridge, wrapped in a hospital sheet and with the saline drip apparatus still inserted in his arm. Immediately, Salmani raised the alarm and informed the Sassoon Hospital control room. He also found a hospital discharge card with the patient, but his suspicions were roused by the the condition of the patient which did not seem as though he had taken his own discharge.
When Salmani called Sassoon Hospital Resident Medical Officer Dr S S Vikhe–Patil, she told him that this patient must have run away. When Salmani confronted her by pointing out that Salunkhe was covered in a hospital bedsheet and had a needle in his arm, she changed her statement saying the patient had been discharged on the request of his relative.
Speaking to Pune Mirror, Salmani said, “I waited till 7.30 pm for the police and Sassoon authorities to arrive and take Salunkhe to the hospital, but no one came. When I tried calling RMO Vikhe–Patil again, she repeatedly refused to take my calls. Then, I contacted the police control room on helpline number 100, from where I got immediate response. Police from Faraskhana and Shivajinagar police stations reached the spot and made arrangements to shift the patient back to Sassoon Hospital.”
“As the patient was found with Sassoon Hospital’s equipment and bedsheet, it was the hospital authorities’ duty to search for the patient if he had indeed escaped. It is their responsibility. They neither came nor informed the police. The patient was admitted to the hospital again at around 9.30 pm.
According to Salunkhe’s hospital case file, he hails from Belgaum in Karnataka and is presently a resident of Tingare colony in Dhanori. He was working as a labour at Tingare Nagar area and was admitted to Sasoon Hospital by his wife, Jayashree, on November 16. After admitting him, she has not visited him even once. Salunke, whose condition was serious, was shifted to ward number 40 of Sassoon Hospital, reserved for tuberculosis patients. On Saturday afternoon around 11.30 am, he was allegedly dumped near the river bank with a hospital bedsheet and a saline drip.
When this reporter tried to talk to Salunkhe, he was not in a condition to talk due to weakness. However, he said he was placed near the river by some people whose identity he is not clear about, and has little recollection of the rest that happened.
When Pune Mirror contacted Dr P S Pawar, superintendent, Sassoon Hospital, he said, “When I inquired with Dr Vikhe–Patil, I came to know that Salunkhe was discharged on Saturday after he said he wanted to shift to another hospital. When I realised the poor health condition of the patient, I informed the police to take necessary action. However, I am going to inquire into the matter internally as there are a number of contradictions.”
Suhas Nadgauda, Inspector incharge, Bund Garden police station, said, “I came to know that a patient has been found abandoned near the Jayantrao Tilak bridge. Accordingly, we confirmed the same from the RMO of Sassoon Hospital. She told us that the patient had been duly discharged. We informed Shivajinagar police and asked them to shift the patient to Sassoon again, as it comes under their jurisdiction. As there was a bedsheet and other hospital equipment with the patient and his condition was bad, the matter will be inquired into. However, it cannot be considered a medico–legal case until a written complaint comes to us.”
Hamid Salmani, Shivajinagar resident