After being discharged from a private hospital in Pune, a 66-year-old Covid-19 patient had to spend another four days in the hospital, as her family had no money to pay the bill.
After Pune Municipal Corporation’s health department officials intervened in the issue, the hospital agreed to discharge the patient by promising to reduce the bill amount of Rs 55,000.
The senior citizen, who lives in a slum in Aundh area, tested Covid positive along with her son on July 31. While she was admitted to Raising Hospital in Kharadi, her son was admitted to Balewadi Covid Care Centre.
The Covid-19 patient also had to be put on oxygen support as she had trouble breathing. She eventually recovered and was discharged on Saturday. The hospital authorities called up her relatives and told them about the Rs 55,000 bill.
“We got at least three calls from the hospital. They said we should go get the patient after paying Rs 55,000. But I told them that I work as a domestic help and my husband works as a security guard. Both of us have been unemployed for several days due to the lockdown. We have no money,” said the daughter-in-law of the patient.
She said she tried to contact civic officials and acquaintances, and finally, advocate Prashant Chandane approached the city Congress unit over the issue.
“We urged the PMC to look into the matter as the patient was a senior citizen. She had submitted her ration card and Aadhaar card to avail the benefit of the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana. It has set a limit of Rs 1 lakh for the urban poor for availing free medical treatment. Yet, the hospital was denying her the facility…,” said Congress general secretary Ramesh Iyer.
After The Indian Express contacted PMC health chief Dr Ramchandra Hankare, he got in touch with Raising Hospital’s Director Vinod Bharati. “I have told the hospital that they can’t keep the patient. They should accommodate the patient under the urban poor health plan of the government. The hospital has promised to discharge the patient on Wednesday by waiving the bill,” he said.
Vinod Bharati, however, said, “I can’t on my own take the decision of waiving or reducing the bill of the patient. I will place the proposal before the board of directors, which will take the decision. But I can promise that the bill will be reduced drastically. We can’t fully waive the bill… the patient’s relatives will have to pay some amount, as per government norms. All our accounts are clear and audited. We do not overcharge patients”.
He said the hospital will extend maximum help to the patient, adding,”The high bill amount is due to higher amount of antibiotics and PPE kits used for the patient. We have not charged the patient for routine medicines and other facilities. Our doctors have done their best to ensure the recovery of the patient.”
Dr Bharati said the hospital had called up the patient’s relatives several times. “However, they insisted that the patient was taken away by government authorities and the government should therefore drop the patient back home. We were ready to discuss the issue and make adjustments, but the relatives refused to come over…,” he said.
The patient’s daughter-in-law said she was not in a position to go out of the house as two members of the family had already tested positive for the infection.
Meanwhile, the committee appointed by the state government to check private hospital bills on Tuesday issued a notice to the Ayush Multispeciality Hospital in Nehrunagar in Pimpri-Chinchwad area for allegedly overcharging patients. The hospital has been asked to reply to the notice within 48 hours.