Leaning on the shoulder of his eldest son Gamal, 44-year-old Mahfouz Abdulaziz Sorour was admitted into the Husseiniya Hospital in Sharqiya Governorate after contracting the coronavirus.
When he first set foot in the hospital, Mahfouz was in good health – but soon enough, he had to enter intensive care. The family was told this was just procedure and that he would go home eventually.
But the next time Mahfouz left the hospital, it was his body being carried to the grave.
Mahfouz was one of the victims of the hospital’s negligence, documented in a viral social media video spread on Saturday showing the destitute conditions of the hospital, and the lack of oxygen for coronavirus patients in the intensive care unit which led to their deaths.
The governor of Sharqiya Mamdouh Ghorab played down the incident, stating that the four deaths at the hospital were a result of chronic health conditions and not the hospital’s failing.
But the families of the victims believe otherwise.
Gamal Mahfouz insists his father did not suffer from any chronic diseases or any severe deterioration in his health.
“My father’s oxygen level was good until yesterday. The doctor told me he lowered the oxygen for my father because he passed the danger stage, and that we only needed to feed him,” he told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
“He was supposed to go back home, but instead I brought him to the grave.”
In tears, Gamal explained that his father was a poor man and that he was helping him support the needs of his siblings.
When he headed to the hospital himself for answers after the administration told him of his father’s death, Gamal learned that other people in the intensive unit had died as well – including a young man.
Although the Husseiniya Hospital is a government hospital Gamal said he had paid LE17,000 in favors to the security staff there, such as paying for their tea, none of which went for his father’s treatment.
“Death is caused by the hands of our Lord, but this is a cruel cause,” he lamented sorrowfully.
Judicial sources said that the Public Prosecution in Sharqiya summoned the director of Husseiniya Hospital, three doctors and four nurses to investigate the deaths.
The sources said that the prosecution summoned hospital and intensive care room officials to clarify what happened, but filed no charges so far. The prosecution had also requested the appointment of a medical committee to investigate the hospital’s reported oxygen deficiency.
Despite denial from the governor of Sharqiya and the hospital director the oxygen shortages were what killed the patients, several hospital residents alongside two nurses confirmed that the hospital was facing an oxygen shortage.
Minister of Health Hala Zayed assured that sufficient stocks of medical oxygen are available in all hospitals receiving coronavirus patients across the country, adding that the state spares no effort in preserving the health of citizens.
The Health Ministry’s official spokesperson Khaled Megahed said that the hospital’s oxygen network was reportedly operating well, with its tank on Saturday containing 500 liters of medical oxygen gas alongside a a backup gas network connected to 24 medical oxygen cylinders.
He added that the hospital had a strategic stock of 45 oxygen cylinders additionally.
Megahed assured that the hospital’s departments are fully functional and all patients are receiving the necessary medical care.
He clarified that the deaths at the Husseiniya Hospital‘s intensive care unit occurred across different time periods, with the majority being elderly people with chronic diseases who suffered pathological complications from the coronavirus, leading to a deterioration in their condition and their deaths.
A shocking video went viral on social media showing the intensive care unit inside the hospital. The camera pans between beds of motionless patients, while medical staff try to save another patient, and a nurse squats to the floor in shock.
The person recording the video can be heard repeating: “all those in the intensive care are dead… there is no oxygen.” Social media users claimed that the deaths were due to the exhaustion of the hospital’s oxygen supplies.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm