Multiple investigations ongoing, Fire Service to submit report next week
The United Hospital authorities asked for a Tk1.5 lakh bill to be cleared by the family of a victim of the May 27 fire at the hospital, without producing any relevant documents to substantiate their claim, according to the family that was handed the bill.
Ronald Ricky Gomez, son-in-law of Vernon Anthony Paul, who died in the fire at United Hospital in Dhaka, levelled the allegation in the first information report that he filed with Gulshan police station on Wednesday, accusing the hospital of negligence that led to Paul’s death.
Vernon Anthony Paul was one of the five patients who died in the devastating fire at the hospital's makeshift isolation unit for Covid-19 patients on the evening of May 27.
Meanwhile, the court has ordered that the investigation report of the case be submitted to it by July 5.
Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Abu Sufian Noman accepted the case statement and set a date for the submission of the report on Thursday.
In the case statement, Ronald Gomez alleged that the hospital produced a Tk1.5 lakh bill when they wanted to take Paul’s body from the morgue.
However, the hospital failed to show any relevant documents or reports of the tests conducted against the bill.
“The report will be given only after payment of the bill,” alleged Ronald, quoting the hospital authorities.
Later, Paul’s body was released from the hospital on May 29 after the bill related dispute had been resolved.
“We paid Tk50,000 as advance when my father-in-law was admitted to the hospital. We told them that we could not pay any bill without seeing any test report. Since they failed to show any report relevant to the charges, we declined to pay another Tk1 lakh demanded by the hospital,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
When asked about the allegations, Dr Shagufa Anwar, chief of communication & business development at United Hospital said: “The patient's family wanted to see the bill and the official showed it to them. But the hospital did not take any bills from them.”
Gomez's father-in-law Vernon Paul was admitted to the makeshift coronavirus isolation unit of the hospital on May 25, but he subsequently tested negative.
Although the report was negative, the hospital did not transfer him to a regular unit from the isolation unit where the fire took place on May 27, Gomez alleged.
At the same time, there was no fire extinguisher at the hospital when the fire took place. The hospital authorities made no initiative to save the patients, he claimed.
Regarding the case, Dr Shagufa Anwar declined to make any comment, saying it would not be right to comment on the matter as a case had been lodged.
“Now the legal department is looking into the matter,” she said.
Fire service probe report next week
The Fire Service and Civil Defense will submit its probe report on the United Hospital fire incident early next week.
Fire Services Director (operation) and the head of the probe committee, Lt Col Zillur Rahman, told Dhaka Tribune that they had already spoken with about 14 to 15 doctors, nurses, staff, security officer, and housekeeper of United Hospital.
“We have cross-checked their statements. We are trying to find out the cause of the fire and whether there was any negligence on the part of the authorities in dousing it,” he said, adding that the report would be submitted next week.
Information Minister Hasan Mahmud on Tuesday said the United Hospital authorities would be held accountable for the deaths in the fire.
Meanwhile, the High Court, on the same day, asked the authorities of United Hospital to submit a report within June 14 explaining the cause of death of five patients in their coronavirus isolation unit.
Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) was asked to investigate whether the hospital had permission to run makeshift isolation units for Covid-19 patients, while the inspector general of police was asked to report on the progress of the investigation on the deaths of the patients by the Criminal Investigation Department.
The HC also asked the Fire Service to submit its report on whether the hospital lacked fire safety measures.