HIV Positive Patient Undergoes Ordeal At Ill Equipped Hospital

by Ann Samuel on Sep 25 2007 3:35 PM

For Shefali Mondal from Bolpur, Kolkata, life has been throwing out miseries on her by the dozen. Deserted by her husband nine years back, Shefali Mondal (name changed) was shocked to learn she was HIV positive, 2 months back.

Always by her side, her in-laws too have deserted her now. After being forced to leave home, Shefali decided to end it all. Last Friday, she jumped in front of a moving train at Bolpur station. She was then rushed to Bolpur sub divisional hospital, where her left arm had to be amputated.

Though Shefali was saved, misfortune seems determined to never leave her. When the hospital authorities came to know of her HIV+ status, they shifted her to Burdwan Medical College and Hospital on Sunday - even before she could recover from the surgery.

Says Shefali: “Everyone except for my mother-in-law turned against me, insisting that I go back to my father’s home in Panrui. The pressure on me increased when my mother-in-law was sent to Kolkata for treatment. I finally went away and spent two nights at Bolpur station. On Friday, I decided to end my life.”

One of her brothers-in-law, a businessman, refutes the claim that she had been forced out of their home in Santiniketan’s Shyambati. “We did not compel her to leave. We live with small children and didn’t want to take any risks. So we suggested that she stay with her parents at Panrui. You cannot blame us. We even promised to provide for her”, he states.

Shefali’s son works in a Kolkata-based private firm and is not in touch with his mother regularly. S K Bhowmik, Birbhum chief medical officer of health was quoted: “There is no infrastructure at the Bolpur hospital to house such a patient. She had disclosed her HIV+ status as soon as she was brought in. A blood test confirmed this. In spite of that, doctors went ahead with the operation and treated her. So it shouldn’t be said that she was shifted elsewhere as soon as doctors found that she was HIV+. In fact, all local HIV+ patients should be registered at Burdwan Medical College and Hospital.” However, he admitted that the precautionary measures necessary to operate on an HIV+ patient were not taken at Bolpur.

At Bolpur hospital, patients who spent two days with Shefali in the ward, sounded quite worried. A doctor was reported: “We have asked higher authorities for better equipment to re-arrange the operation theatre. Then, we will be better prepared to tackle such cases in the future.”