Private hospitals of Panchkula which were identified as dedicated Covid hospitals have started returning patients citing a lack of Covid isolation ICU beds.
A family has alleged refusal by a private hospital to treat their 76-year-old corona suspected patient, saying they were turned away as “the hospital did not have any ICU beds left”. The patient passed away few hours later.
“We reached the hospital with my grandmother sometime after 2 pm on Monday. They did not take her in but instead put her on a stretcher just next to the reception of emergency wing. She had breathing issues and they suspected her to be Covid-19 positive. A doctor of the hospital, who told us she would need oxygen and other intensive care support denied to take her in as they had no Covid isolation ICU beds,” said Kanchi Gupta, the patient’s granddaughter.
Kanchi and her family were then asked to sign on various forms for her discharge. “In haste we also signed on a form called LAMA (leave against medical advice) which put the onus of leaving the hospital with the patient on us. We then again talked to doctors and asked them to give us a referral form which can be showed to the hospital we wanted to go to next but to no avail. They made us wait for several hours till after 5 pm citing various excuses. It was only when we threatened action that a doctor around 6.15 wrote us a referral on a letterpad but did not put the reason for refusal in writing.”
The patient was then taken to civil hospital, Panchkula, where she was tested for Covid-19 and passed away around 9 pm the same day. “Her reports tested negative the following day,” Kanchi said.
The private hospital which conducted several tests had by then produced a bill of approximately Rs 30,000, stated Kanchi.
“I don’t know what would have happened if they had taken her in and provided her the care she needed. It might have been the difference between life and death. But I blame the hospital for refusing care to a person who needed it.”
The family has claimed that they found something fishy as the hospital which initially refused treatment to the patient claiming unavailability of bed, later called us asking for her admission.
“We sensed something was wrong as they later called us and said a bed had been made available. We do not know how this can happen in a matter of few hours,” Kanchi said.
A doctor of the private hospital maintains that ever since the Haryana government has capped prices of treatment at private hospitals, they have remained wary of taking patients in. “The price cap is too low. We are already running in losses and cannot really operate on philanthropy. The government takes taxes and keeps treatment free but we do not have any other way. The caps are so low that it does not even meet the cost, let alone profit,” he said on condition of anonymity.
The Haryana government in orders passed in June-end had capped prices wherein non-accredited private hospitals were not to charge more than Rs 8,000 per day for an isolation bed, including supportive care and oxygen. The same was Rs 10,000 per day for accredited hospitals.
The upper limit for ICU (intensive care unit) without ventilator a day was kept at Rs 13,000 at non-accredited hospitals and Rs 15,000 for the same in accredited hospitals.
Likewise, the non-accredited hospitals were capped at Rs 15,000 daily for ICU with ventilator while Rs 18,000 had been fixed for the same for accredited hospitals.
The Centre in April had come up with a meticulous plan to separate healthcare facilities depending on a patient’s condition to provide them better treatment.
They graded facilities into three: Covid Care Centre (CCC) which will house asymptomatic persons, Dedicated Covid Health Centre (DCHC) which will treat patients with moderate symptoms and Dedicated Covid Hospital (DHC) which will need intensive care — oxygen supply facilities and ventilators.
The Panchkula health department, not having even a single ventilator or functional ICU till then, had partnered with four private hospitals — Paras, Ojas, Alchemist at Panchkula and MMIMSR at Maulana. While the private hospitals of Panchkula provided 63 total ICU beds, with Paras and Alchemist having 23 each, Ojas provided 17. MMIMSR had provided another 40 beds.
These beds though remain under the monopoly of the health department of Panchkula and the hospitals require a concurrence letter to be signed by the Chief Medical Officer of Panchkula before the admission of any patient to this facility.
Both Panchkula and Mohali act as medical hubs providing one of the best private medical healthcare facilities in the region. Patients from Chandigarh as well as other nearby districts reach these private centres for treatment.
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