Vikramnagar residential colony housing ISRO Space Application Centre (SAC) employees have witnessed a rise in Covid-19 cases, with at least 11 active cases and 20 of the 700 homes, covering around 80 people, placed under micro containment since Saturday.
Infected employees are also facing another issue with the private hospitals in Ahmedabad refusing to recognise the Contributory Health Service Scheme (CHSS) that subsidises treatment costs for employees, as “it pays the hospital less”.
The Vikramnagar colony has seen antigen testing deployed since the past three weekends, says a resident. In the two blocks that are under micro containment, employees are not permitted to move out of their residences. ISRO SAC employees, however, continue to have their offices open.
According to a source, a June 30 circular for SAC employees, applicable until July 31, had mandated senior officials in technical and administrative areas to attend office on all working days, while other officers and staff members are to attend every alternate day, each day operating on 50% strength.
It is contrary to Bengaluru where according to a July 22 office memorandum, a copy of which is with this paper, had proposed “to impose restrictions on the working pattern” at department of space (DOS), ISRO headquarters and other units in Bengaluru with only minimal or skeletal staff required to attend office till July 31. The move had come following the end of lockdown imposed by the Karnataka government on July 22 and in view of “considerable increase in the number of cases” in DOS, ISRO centres or units in Bengaluru.
Harshida Modi, public relations officer at ISRO SAC, said, “We have had a family test positive from one (residential) block and a single employee from another (residential) block (of Vikramnagar colony). We have some employees coming in everyday (at or above the rank of under-secretary), while others staff members are coming on alternate days.”
When asked if any special operational measures have been put in place in light of the recent new cases, Modi said, “We closed one area (in SAC office campus where the positive patient was working) for three days — Saturday, Sunday and Monday (that is from July 25) for disinfection and sanitisation. Our campus is huge with buildings scattered so there is no problem as such. For those who came in direct contact, they have been quarantined for at least a week.”
In a June 18 office memorandum from the DOS of the Government of India, it was clarified that CHSS beneficiaries may be allowed to take treatment for Covid-19 in government hospitals or CHSS recognised private hospitals designated by the government to treat Covid-19.
Under CHSS, mainly private doctors, specialists, dentists, nursing homes, hospitals, laboratories, superspecialty hospitals are identified for availing medical treatment and payment towards treatment availed by the beneficiaries are borne directly by the scheme. The fund for the scheme is contributed by all employees on the payroll, by monthly salary deductions.
In Ahmedabad, 15 private hospitals have been empanelled for Covid-19 treatment.
After frantically calling all the hospitals earlier this month, a 34-year-old man was informed in a nearly uniform reply that none of them are taking Covid-19 patients under CHSS as it is priced too low.
The patient, who spoke to this paper on condition of anonymity about his ordeal, said, “When I called, they said all beds are occupied by the AMC. The hospitals also refused to accept me under the CHSS. I argued with a couple of hospitals on why they won’t admit me under CHSS to which they said that they are not agreeable to the capped rates as it is too low… Finally, I found a bed at Tapan Hospital and decided to get myself admitted as a private patient, incurring my own costs. I paid approximately Rs 2 lakh for 10 days of hospitalisation.”
Vipul Patel, an official working with the marketing team of one of the empanelled private health facility for Covid-19 treatment, CIMS Hospital, admitted that they are not accepting patients under the CHSS owing to “rates.”
“The rates were not finalised by ISRO. We had sent our consent (to be empaneled) along with a proposal on (agreeable) rates but there has not been any progress. We have treated two or three ISRO employees but they paid from their pocket and they then get it reimbursed from the office.” However, for reimbursement a detailed, item-wise bill is required.
A senior official at HCG Hospital, another private empanelled health facility, said, “We as it is have a capped price for private patients and we don’t refuse any patient unless we don’t have a vacancy.”
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