The family members of coronavirus patients at a México state hospital will now be able to stay in contact with their loved ones using tablet computers after an angry mob stormed the facility on Friday night seeking information about a patient.
The México state Health Ministry has distributed mobile phones to medical personnel at the Las Americas General Hospital in Ecatepec and tablets to family members of patients. If Covid-19 patients are well enough, they will be able to speak with their relatives via video calls. Family members are prohibited from visiting the patients due to the risk of infection.
Authorities will also erect tents outside the Ecatepec hospital where information about patients’ conditions will be provided to family members. More than 30 additional health workers, including doctors, nurses and nurses’ aides, will be allocated to the facility to treat the growing number of Covid-19 patients.
Almost 500 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Ecatepec, a sprawling, densely-populated municipality that borders Mexico City.
The announcement of the new measures comes after a group of some 15 people breached security at the hospital after they found out that two coronavirus patients had died but were given no specific information about the fatalities.
Led by the parents of a young man who had been hospitalized with coronavirus-like symptoms, the mob burst into the hospital to locate him and other patients. The group found several bagged bodies in a hospital corridor including one containing the young man.
The discovery triggered even greater anger among some of the group’s members, who demanded answers from doctors and nurses about the treatment and medications he had received. An emergency doctor and three security guards were physically attacked during the altercation, the newspaper El Universal reported.
Members of the National Guard and state police arrived at the hospital almost an hour later to quell the protest but disgruntled family members demanding better care for their loved ones maintained a blockade outside the facility until Saturday morning.
The state government said that due to to lack of space the bodies of eight deceased Covid-19 patients had been temporarily stored in a hospital corridor as they awaited collection by busy funeral homes. The government said that family members of the victims had been notified even as relatives claimed they had been kept in the dark.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell later admonished those who stormed the Ecatepec hospital and rummaged through the body bags, which he described as a source of infection.
There is evidence that staff at other health care facilities are also failing to notify family members of Covid-19 patients about their condition in a timely manner as they face increasing demand for their services due to the worsening coronavirus outbreak.
Miriam Cruz, the daughter of a 58-year-old man admitted to a Mexico City hospital with coronavirus-like symptoms last week, didn’t find out that her father had died until two days after his passing.
According to a report by the newspaper Milenio, Rosendo Cruz was admitted to the ISSSTE Ignacio Zaragoza Hospital in Iztapalapa on Wednesday but his daughter didn’t find out about his death the next day until Saturday when her mother-in-law received a call from the facility.
Miriam, who waited day and night outside the hospital with other family members, described not knowing anything about his condition for several days as “horrible.”
She said the hospital said its staff is overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients.
Iztapalapa, the most populated and poorest of Mexico City’s 16 boroughs, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, recording more confirmed cases than any other municipality in the country.