March 3, 2021 12:30:31 am
Private hospitals in the city, which have already given the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to their own healthcare and frontline staff for free, are now fuming because the civic body has told them that the second dose will have to be paid for, or taken free of cost at government-run centres. To add to their woes, most private hospitals in the city have been unable to carry out the vaccination process for the last three to four days.
At a meeting on Tuesday with PMC health officials, private hospital authorities were categorically told that the second dose for healthcare and frontline workers would have to be paid for. “We had a meeting about the training related to the second phase of the inoculation process via the CoWin 2.0 digital platform. Here, the vaccinations would have to be paid for,” said Dr Ashish Bharati, Pune Municipal Corporation’s chief medical officer.
At the meeting, PMC health officials told private hospitals that if they wanted to start vaccinations, then they would have to pay money online to the Government of India account, and then email the receipt to the civic body. “We will then create session sites for them, allowing them to vaccinate specific age groups (above 60 years and 45 years and above with comorbidities), and frontline and healthcare workers,” said Dr Bharati.
On Tuesday, the PMC was able to vaccinate 534 persons above the 60 years (Sassoon General Hospital administered vaccines to 158 and Kamala Nehru Hospital administered to 108). Twenty six persons in the age group of above 45 years with co-morbidities were also vaccinated across eight centres in the city.
Overall, with healthcare workers and frontline workers, a total of 1,056 persons were administered the vaccine dose, including second doses.
However, this latest directive has not gone down well with the private hospitals. According to Dr Sanjay Lalwani, medical director at Bharati Hospital, where over 3,000 healthcare workers have got the first dose, it was “illogical”. “At a time when private hospitals have borne the load of treating Covid patients, with our healthcare and frontline staff being at the helm of affairs, is it not unfair to ask them to pay for the second dose,” Dr Lalwani said.
“Why should we not vaccinate our own staff at our centre instead of sending them to government sites like Sassoon or Kamala Nehru Hospital,” he asked. “Pune people require the support of private hospitals. The PMC’s policies are not clear and we want clarification on this,” he added.
At KEM Hospital, Senior Deputy Medical Administrator Dr Madhur Rao told The Indian Express that they have been flooded with queries as to when the hospital will start vaccinations. “Our hospital has, in one month, vaccinated 1,700 healthcare staff with the first dose. Frontline workers like personnel from Samarth police station, district collectorate and others have also got the first shot. Now, when the second dose is due, the PMC says that KEM is no longer a Covid vaccination centre. We are doing everything according to PMC’s rules and a WHO representative, who visited our centre, appreciated the facilities here. We were briefly empanelled with the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Health Scheme, which ended on Jan 31. Now the PMC can’t leave us in the lurch like this as we were one of the main hospitals supporting Covid-19 patients,” said Dr Rao.
Dr H K Sale, executive director at Noble Hospital, said since the first phase of the vaccination process, a total of 2,800 people had got the first dose at the hospital, including the staff, ASHA workers and policemen at the hospital. “Since Saturday, vaccination sites have been shut down and we are flooded with calls… this is a chaotic situation. We have met the PMC requirements for being a Covid vaccination centre as we have been treating CGHS patients since 2008, but we are not in the PMC list now in the second phase of vaccinations,” said Dr Sale.
Ruby Hall Clinic was also not able to carry out vaccinations. Authorities told The Indian Express that they were told to pay first and then start vaccinations. “We were told that a maximum of 300 can be done. However, the issue is about the second dose for healthcare workers. They have worked selflessly for the entire year for Covid-19 patients… now, asking them to get the second jab at a government facility or pay for it is really unfair,” said an official at Ruby Hall Clinic.
Dr Dhananjay Kelkar, medical director at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, said they were unable to vaccinate for the last three to four days. “We have been asked to purchase the doses. Several of our consultants have been told to go to government facilities for the second dose or buy it… so we don’t seem to have much of a choice here,” said Dr Kelkar.
In Pune Circle, (Pune, Solapur and Satara districts), a total of 2,382 persons above 60 years were vaccinated on Tuesday, while 220 persons between 45 and 59 years with co-morbidities got the first dose.
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