Coronavirus in Mumbai: For want of a ride, dialysis & cancer patients unable to reach hospital

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Mumbai: With Maharashtra under lockdown till April 14 to halt the spread of Sars-CoV-2, hundreds of dialysis and cancer patients who need to visit the hospital for routine check-ups are struggling to keep their appointments, for lack of transport. The director of Tata Hospital, Dr C S Pramesh, said they would hold a meeting with the BEST and BMC, requesting them to ply special buses for patients.

Mahim resident Ramesh Jain had to wait for more than an hour to get a taxi to reach the King Edward Memorial hospital, 3.5kms from his home, to take his father for a routine check-up. “My father has blood cancer and I have to take him to hospital every five days. This Friday, I was unable to find any means of transport by which to get him to hospital,” he said.

“I asked my neighbours to help me but because of the lockdown and fear of police, they refused to help. Luckily, I found a cabbie who ferried me to the hospital and also dropped me back,” he narrated.

Dr Pramesh said, “Some patients are finding it difficult to reach the hospital for lack of public transport and cabs. We are speaking with BEST to see if buses can be arranged for our patients.”

Dialysis patients are also suffering, as it is a struggle to find transport to the dialysis centre or a nearby hospital.

Mumbai has more than 1,000 patients with renal failure, who need dialysis twice or thrice a week. “Dialysis helps regulate blood pressure and flush out toxins from the body and regulate sodium and potassium levels. Without this process, salts and toxins will accumulate in the blood, which will eventually poison the body, leading to permanent damage and death,” said Dr Geeta Sheth, JJ hospital.

Many non-governmental organisations have come forward to help cancer patients, for whom they have made shelter homes in the city and arrangments to ferry them to Tata hospital if they need chemotherapy.

“We have five shelter homes in the city, in which children and old people reside. We have also made arrangements for vehicles and drivers, who work from 7am to 7pm and patients are taken to the hospital after consulting doctors,” according to one of the NGOs.

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