Amid the countless allegations against some private nursing homes in Siliguri over Covid-19 treatment and the apparent non-action on the part of the administration or the health department, family members of a 70-year-old patient have filed a complaint against a private hospital in Siliguri.

The son of the patient, a former CPI-M councilor, has alleged that his mother was beaten up in at the Mukherjee Nursing Home on Hill cart Road in Siliguri where she was undergoing treatment for Covid-19. Subrata Sarkar, the son of the patient Subhra Sarkar, alleged that hospital staff even strapped his mother’s hands when they beat her up.

The nursing home authorities, however, dismissed the charges as baseless. It has also filed a police complaint against Mr Sarkar for “creating nuisance” at the nursing home. Mrs Sarkar was admitted in the hospital on 24 May with Covid-19 complications.

“Her oxygen saturation was low at 70 percent when she was admitted in the hospital. The doctors informed us that she was improving, but during her stay in the hospital for 14 days, we came to know she was not improving. I had gone to the hospital to enquire about her and I found that her hands were all tied up. She was also not allowed to talk to her family members on the phone earlier. Later, following intervention of an officer of the rank of deputy magistrate, she was allowed to speak on the phone. My mother told me on the phone of the physical torture she faced there,” said Mr Sarkar, a resident of South Deshbandhu Para in Siliguri.

Mrs Sarkar had been the councillor of ward 30 in between 2004 and 2009 in the Left front-run board at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation. She also served as the chairperson of Borough-IV during that period. She was then shifted to another nursing home yesterday. The incident drew widespread criticism against the nursing home as well as the health department and the district administration from several quarters.

The health department said it has formed a twomember committee to investigate the matter. However, a local person in the town raised questions on such panels and the administration’s “steps” to tackle the alleged high-handedness of private nursing homes in the town.

“There have been several complaints, official and unofficial, against such nursing homes, which have surfaced ever since the second wave of Covid-19 struck us, while patient parties have gone on record with documents to substantiate their claims on several occasions, highlighting the inflated bills and negligence of the health facilities. However, I can see that the administration or the health department have been making tall claims, but not doing anything concrete to check such malpractices in private hospitals,” the person, whose relative had allegedly undergone such “trauma” in a private nursing home at Pradhan Nagar, said today.

The person requested anonymity. Meanwhile, officials at the Mukherjee Nursing Home refuted Mr Sarkar’s allegations. “She was admitted with Covid-19 and suffering from multiple respiratory distress. Mr Sarkar only visited the nursing home on Sunday and forcefully entered the Covid ward where she was admitted. He assaulted the security staff there, and threatened nurses and doctors. The charges of assaulting patient physically are completely groundless. We lodged a police complaint on the same day and handed over the necessary CCTV camera footage,” said the director of the hospital, Dr Mainak Mukherjee.

Asked about the complaints the patient being physically assaulted, Dr Mukherjee claimed that the patient was given chest physiotherapy, as per the treatment protocol. According to him, the patient was disoriented and had shown restlessness. “Her two fingers were tied up to see to it that she did not remove the pulse oximeter, since she was extracting the chest leads. And we had taken the consent of family members when we did this,” Dr Mukherjee said.

The chairperson of the board of administrators of the SMC, Gautam Deb, said he had asked the Darjeeling district magistrate and the police to carry out proper investigations. “On the other hand, the administration has already issued show-cause letters to seven nursing homes. Necessary steps will be taken if they are found guilty,” Mr Deb said.

According to the Darjeeling district chief medical officer of health, Dr Pralay Acharya, the health department had set up a two-member team to look into the complaints. “We will take necessary steps based on the report of its enquiry” Dr Acharya said.