‘They have been demanding exorbitant amount for COVID admissions and not entertaining insurance policies’
Two days ago, Prasad (name changed), in desperation called up a private hospital that is registered under category -B of notified COVID hospitals in the city, as he wanted to admit his 25-year-old son-in-law, who has tested COVID-19 positive and his oxygen count had gone down below 90. The management of the hospital demanded charges of ₹25,000 per day and an advance of ₹1 lakh. He said that he was not in a position to pay that amount and could afford only the government approved charges. In response, the hospital official curtly told him to ‘try another place’. Fortunately, with great difficulty and after pulling some strings, he could get his son-in-law admitted to GIMSR (GITAM Institute of Medical Sciences).
On Thursday, another person with similar desperation informed The Hindu that a COVID-notified corporate hospital demanded an advance of ₹5 lakh and the management further told him that insurance policies will not be entertained.
The situation in the city is grim, as beds in hospitals, especially with oxygen supply or ICU beds, have gone dry and people are seen queueing up outside hospitals to admit their near and dear. The only place where a common man can afford or try is government hospital, but as per sources in KGH CSR block, there are three patients in line for one bed.
The district administration is aware of the situation but after a point they are helpless, as the shortage has hit them hard.
“The coming of a second wave was discussed and talked off, but its enormity was not anticipated. Today, though the official estimate of positivity is around 16%, in reality it is much higher and that is why the number of persons infected is much higher than the availability of beds,” said a senior doctor from King George Hospital.
As of now, the district administration has around 6,700 beds spread across 61 category A and B hospitals, which include over 2,000 beds in government-owned hospitals and over 4,500 in private or corporate sector.
Out of the total, around 60% of the beds are covered with oxygen, which include ICU and ventilator connected. “But we definitely need more at this moment,” said District COVID Special Officer and Principal of Andhra Medical College P.V. Sudhakar.
With the demand exceeding the supply by many times, it has come handy for the private players, who are not only charging high for the beds or special rooms, but even making a killing when charging for the medicines, including Remdesivir.
There were cases, when hospitals charged from ₹25,000 to ₹50,000 for one shot of Remdesivir, despite the government supplying copious quantities to all notified hospitals at the usual MRP.
“There is a feeling that the scarcity is hyped up for everything, so that people are made to pay the rate demanded out of desperation. To avoid such situation, as the second wave is yet to peak in the district and in the State, the government needs to scale up the infrastructure and see that beds are made available freely, especially for those who need oxygen support,” said former Union Secretary E.A.S. Sarma.
3,000 beds to be added
According to a senior officer from the Health Department, the district administration is planning to scale up the beds by another 3,000 in the district in the next couple of days. Though the requirement is another 5,000 with oxygen, but 3,000 would suffice the present situation, he said.
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