Deepika Punjabi was admitted to a private hospital in Mumbai for spinal treatment in 2015 and since then, she refused to leave the hospital, according to media reports.
The 69-year-old, a resident of Chembur, was deemed fit by the hospital and her discharge papers were given to her, but nobody came to pick her up. Now, the hospital has approached police seeking their help.
The hospital authorities said they have stopped charging her long back as she was not under any active treatment. She stays in a room attached to the general ward on the second floor; the caretakers change her diapers and clean her room. Sometimes, they feed her too, it said.
TOI reported that the family of the 69-year-old has been spotted several times checking on her but run away when approached.
“She has a family, including siblings. But it’s clear they don’t want to take her home. They pay for all her needs and we run errands for her out of humanity. She may not want to leave the hospital but she certainly doesn’t like hospital food,” said Jagdish Chaudhary, one chemist outside the Bombay Hospital.
The chemist also said that the 69-year-old has a mobile phone from which she orders food online. The mobile is recharged by the family, he added.
Deepika Punjabi also told TOI that she was a resident of Chembur. She, however, broke down when asked about her family.
Punjabi’s doctor ML Saraf said she has been treated and can walk but she has chosen not to.
“All her limbs are working well now. She can walk if she wants to but she doesn’t. What I gathered from speaking to her in the past is that her flat was sold off to pay some dues and she has nowhere to go,” the doctor said.
“The family is not cooperating and the police have refused to help,” he said, adding that the state must create a support system for the elderly who are abandoned.
According to a report, many private hospitals in the city have faced similar problems with families abandoning their elderly patients. Such patients also refused to leave the hospital when they have nowhere to go.