A lady, around 80 years, wheelchair bound, in an old-age home, with no one to take care of her in desperate medical emergencies – should the state ignore such cases – especially when they are tagged and tweeted multiple times about it – especially when they tweet and retweet multiple times a day – showing their social media alertness and connect to the world?
If that happens so – it tells how insensitive our political class has become – and in this case, it exactly came out like this!
And the ‘very aam aadmi-esque Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or the claimed harbinger of change in Indian politics, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) are to share the blame here.
The grandma in question here is 80 year old Mrs. Phool Mehta, an old-age home resident from Delhi’s Mayur Vihar Phase 1. She lost her husband some years back and has no son or daughters or any other immediate family. She has no regular source of income apart from some savings, barely enough to sustain her life in the old-age home. She finds it hard to meet her routine medical needs, that are many, so managing finances for medical emergencies, that require huge sum, is out of question. Anyway, somehow, it has been managed so far somehow, like it is going to be this time.
She has multiple health issues. She is diabetic. She takes blood-pressure pills. She met an accident some years ago that has left her wheelchair bound. She has plates and rods in her thighs and hands, one of which she cannot use properly. She has ulcer and continuous internal bleeding leads to periodic Haemoglobin reduction. Her Hb at the moment is 5.2. Her both legs and left hand are swollen and it is spreading to other parts of the body. Yesterday, we took her to a nearby hospital but it refused to take her referring her to some higher centre for specialized care. They said her heart was enlarged, had oedema and they could not take the risk of blood transfusion in this case. We spoke to some Delhi government hospitals, including LBS and GB Pant but they, too, refused, saying they did not deal with such cases.
Doctors told us that the window of time that she had was very limited and so we very trying hard to get her hospitalized in some big hospital yesterday only but no headway was coming in. She was in imminent danger of a renal failure. Out of desperation, I tried to use social media to reach out to the Delhi government and Union Health Minister JP Nadda. Though I did not have much hopes, because I know politicians use social media selectively, going by the content that furthers their agenda, I did try. And I tried multiple times.
Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (@arvindkejriwal), Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) and Union Health Minister JP Nadda (@jpnadda) were tagged in all ten tweets that I shot yesterday, hoping they or someone from their team would respond to at least one of them. I also tagged @pmoindia, @sushmaswaraj, @atishimarlena, @raghav_chadha and @drkumarvishwas. But all of them, who are quite active of Twitter, couldn’t find time to look even once at my tweets. A friend even tagged Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain (@satyendarjain).
In an ideal situation, based on the founding principles of these parties, or the values they claim to live and die for, they would rushed to help. But I had expected, the help did not come. It reminded me of another ‘social media savvy’ Union Minister who never responds to uncomfortable or critical tweets – Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu.
Here are those tweets that I shot for Mrs. Mehta, the tweets that could find an alert from anyone in the Delhi Government or the Central Government. I do not want to go into a running commentary on moral obligations and ethical behaviour of our politicians because the episode is self-explanatory.
@msisodia : a 80 yr old old-age home lady in desperate need of medical help in Mayur Vihar Ph 1. Can some1 help?
12:29 PM – 18 Feb 2017
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda : a 80 yr old old-age home lady in desperate need of medical help in Mayur Vihar Ph 1. Can some1 help?
12:59 PM – 18 Feb 2017
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda 80 yr old oldage hom lady in desprate need of medical help in Mayur Vihar Ph1. Can some1 help? 3rd tweet.
2:44 PM – 18 Feb 2017
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda 80 yr old oldage hom lady in desprate need of medical help in Mayur Vihar Ph1. Can some1 help? 4th tweet.
3:27 PM – 18 Feb 2017
@PMOIndia @ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda 80yr oldage hom grandma in desprate need of medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 6th tweet.
4:35 PM – 18 Feb 2017
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda @SushmaSwaraj 80yr oldage hom grandma in desprate need of medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 7th tweet.
6:11 PM – 18 Feb 2017
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda @DrKumarVishwas 80yr oldage hom grandma in desprate need f medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 8th tweet.
9:25 PM – 18 Feb 2017
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda @AtishiMarlena 80yr oldage hom grandma in desprate need f medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 9th tweet.
9:49 PM – 18 Feb 2017
@ArvindKejriwal @msisodia @JPNadda @raghav_chadha 80yr oldage home grandma in desprate need f medical help in MY. Can some1 help? 10th tweet.
9:49 PM – 18 Feb 2017
So it was all for us to try – and we had no option here to fail.
Thankfully, I was also trying my alternate network – of social workers and volunteers. And it was finally this network that came to our rescue – with timely intervention and help from Sai Padma, Vaishnavi Jayakumar, Sailesh Mishra, Abha Khetarpal, Rajeshwar Devarakonda, Dr. AB Dey of AIIMS and many others. With the coordinated help of these dots, the guiding lights here, from different parts of India, Mrs. Mehta was finally admitted to the Geriatric Ward of AIIMS this afternoon.
The doctors have put her on Oxygen. They will treat her for oedema next and then will go for her blood transfusion, some three units minimum that she needs to come to a sustainable level of Hb in her blood. Then she needs some time to stabilize. Hope all will go well now.