Head Nurse denied Dignity in death as family runs from Pillar to Post to find burial space

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A head nurse of Hyderabad’s Government General and Chest Hospital, Victoria Jayamani who became the first among the nursing staff to succumb to COVID-19 after selfless service on June 26, could not get the dignity that is reserved for a deceased person.

While officials and the government recalled the Fifty-eight year old’s services and assured all help to the family, the near and dear ones of the senior nurse are aghast that they could not provide a decent burial for her. She is not alone in suffering even in death. Families of eight other COVID-19 deceased patients from the Christian community too underwent similar ordeal in getting place for burial.

Even as the body of Jayamani was lying in Gandhi Hospital mortuary, her family members ran from pillar to post to secure a 6 x 8-foot piece of land for burial. The popular church they attend every Sunday was of no help once it became clear that the deceased was a COVID-19 victim. The cemetery at Narayanguda failed to allow the burial. Several other mainline churches with cemeteries attached to them too refused permission.

B. Jakinkanth, son-in-law of the head nurse, said they knocked at the doors of everyone including officials and politicians, but no help came their way. “My mother-in-law gave everything in serving the needy patients and at the end, she was not given the due respect that is reserved for the dead,” he recalled.

After much running around, the family members found government-sanctioned burial ground for the Christians at Ahmedguda in Keesara mandal, 20 km from the city.

“Even this piece of land did not come free of cost. The family had to pay ₹ 20,000 to conduct the last rites,” those who arranged the last rites on June 27 said.

Information gathered from different sources revealed that at least three deceased patients’ bodies were kept in private hospitals for three to four days till place was identified for the burial. If the bodies were in Gandhi Hospital there was pressure to take them for burial immediately. Deceased patients residing in Moulali, Neredmet, Musheerabad, Sanatnagar and Malkajgiri were taken to city outskirts for final rites.