The authorities of the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in Aurangabad said they have been observing an increasing trend of elderly persons being abandoned at the facility by their kin after they are brought for treatment.
The GMCH-Aurangabad is one of the biggest health facilities in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. People from across the eight districts in the region come to the hospital for treatment, one of its senior officials said.
He said the number of elderly persons being left at the hospital by their family members is growing.
“The number of such abandoned old people had gone up in the initial phase of the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. But we carried out a campaign with the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and sent many of them to local shelter homes. However, as per our experience, many of them escape from the shelter homes,” GMCH superintendent Dr Suresh Harbade said.
Many of the abandoned people then start living on the hospital campus, footpaths or areas around the facility. They prefer to stay at such places as they easily get food and other basic things from the passers-by. Which is why, they don’t want to stay at shelter homes and such facilities, he said.
“After the initial drive, the number of abandoned persons decreased. However, such cases have started going up of late. Therefore, we are planning to undertake a similar exercise once again by roping in NGOs,” he added.
The authorities, however, do not have the exact number of such people.
Dr Harbade said that patients are admitted to the hospital even if they are not accompanied by their family members.
“Our staff and social workers take care of such people. But if we try to contact their family members, the latter do not give a positive response. It has been observed in many cases,” he said.
During the previous drive, the hospital authorities had contacted the local governing bodies from where these old people come, he said, adding, “We sent some of them back to their native places under this initiative.”
An elderly man named Nivrutti, who stays on the footpath in front of the casualty ward of the GMCH, said, “I come from a village near Badnapur tehsil in neighboring Jalna district. Some days back, a rat bit me and my son brought me here for treatment. But he left me alone at the hospital and returned home…I can barely walk.” “After that, I started living on this footpath. At night, I see many people like me here,” he said.
“I had worked as a labourer throughout my life, but my family does not want to keep me with them. My son is busy with his own family now…But I am sure that even if I die here, someone or the other will perform my last rites…I am fine the way I am now.”
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