Pune reality check: Truth behind hospital treatment of COVID-19 cases

Chaitraly Deshmukh 
Friday, 24 July 2020

It is also seen that if the COVID-19 patients in Pune are receiving beds and ventilators, they need to pay the huge bills at the hospital

Pune: Pune, a hotspot for the novel coronavirus is witnessing a surge in new COVID-19 cases. Though the mortality rate of the city is 2.6 per cent, 20-30 deaths are being reported daily in the city.

The bed capacity augmentation is a big challenge for the administration as patients and their relatives are finding it difficult to find vacant ventilators and ICU beds in the government and private hospitals of the city. Major hospitals around the city have run out of vacant isolation beds with oxygen supply or intensive care units.

Recently, a 34-year-old man from the city, who was denied admission by at least four big hospitals in the city, succumbed to the contagion. The patient’s family was on the hunt for vacant oxygen or ventilator beds in any of the hospitals on Tuesday for more than eight hours but were denied by the hospitals.

It is also seen that if the patients are receiving beds and ventilators, they need to pay the huge bills at the hospital. This suggests that there are two options available to COVID-19 patients in the city - die without an ICU bed or pay a hefty bill at the hospital. Many private hospitals in the city are reportedly charging exorbitant rates from the patients, defying the state government order that they should charge as per its rules.

When Sakal Times did a reality check, the truth was far beyond the imagination.

Many COVID-19 patients who received ICU beds were charged with hefty bills ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh. A COVID-19 recovered patient narrated, “Besides Rs 50,000 deposit per patient before admission, we were charged Rs 2 lakh. My family did not want to spend more time there due to fear of the infection, so we did not argue.”

Private hospitals and the patients have sustained to involve in a tug of war despite efforts by the state government to find a middle ground by reserving beds and capping fees for patients. While private hospitals say they have been ‘forced to increase charges’ due to growing expenses and losses, patients suffering long-term hospitalisation say they are unable to pay such hefty bills. No major actions have been taken by the Pune Municipal Corporation or Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation against such hospitals.

COMPLAINTS FROM PATIENTS

  • Recovering separate costs from each patient even if one PPE kit is used for multiple patients
  • Charging Rs 400 for two meals
  • Asking to undergo medical checkups or tests even if not required for treating COVID-19

Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Sanjay Dabhade of Jan Arogya Manch said, “Complaints of overcharging are continuously coming from the patients. The government should take this very seriously. Each hospital should have a government official to monitor it and should be given the responsibility of that hospital. The administration dashboard informs that hospital beds are available, but the beds are not available in reality.”

When the pandemic broke out, all the talks were on how humanity needed to be more well-knit than ever. A few months on, the breed has learned to encash a pandemic for greed.

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