Healthcare crisis brewing in Ahmedabad

Several private hospitals refuse to turn into Covid centers, kidney disease patient dies after being refused treatment by multiple hospitals as he also tested positive for Coronavirus

Ahmedabad hospital

Ahmedabad, a city that is already fighting an uphill battle against the Coronavirus, is in for some more challenges related to its healthcare apparatus. The Indian Express reports that as many as 25 out of 30 private hospitals in the city have refused to become Covid centers and have declined to sign an MoU with the municipal corporation.

IE says one of the contentious issues is the pricing and that hospitals are citing the “non parity in services and specialization” as grounds for declining the uniform rate card formula proposed by the state government. Dr Bharat Gadhavi, president of Ahmedabad Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (AHNA) told the publication, “The actual cost of treatment is higher that the rates fixed by the state government. Not only that they also have to understand that private hospitals do not work in this way. The basic cost each hospital bears is different and based on that they have their schedule of charges. It cannot be same for everyone. For instance, the ICU rates cannot be same for all hospitals depending upon the infrastructure and the medical and paramedical staff. There is a huge difference between two hospitals even with similar bed capacity.” AHNA estimates that on an average a private hospital incurs between Rs 20,000-22,000 for the general ward per day, while for ICU the running cost is between Rs 30,000-40,000 per patient per day.

Now, as per a Government Resolution (GR) dated April 16, 2020, Covid-19 patients are to be treated free of cost, and that the hospitals will be reimbursed by the state government. The reimbursement amount for fixed cost is Rs 200 per patient for OPD. While medicines are to be supplied for free to the patients by the hospital, for X-RAY, blood test or any other test, an amount of Rs 200 is to be paid.

The charges being paid to the hospital include charges for doctor’s visit, nursing charges, medicines, laboratory and radiology charges, follow-up charges, refreshments for patients, food (twice a day) and consultation up to five days from the date of discharge. Suspected Covid-19 patients to be tested only at the laboratories specified by the government. The responsibility of sending the samples to such laboratories is with the designated hospital. The charges for the same will be paid by the government as per the prevailing norms.

But, given the disparity in infrastructure and services, the standard rates are unacceptable to many top line private hospitals. Moreover, several super-specialty hospitals do not have the infrastructure to offer Covid care.

Meanwhile, it is patients who continue to pay the price for the sheer apathy of hospitals. The Times of India reported the case of 67-year-old Hasnuddin Saiyed, a kidney disease patient who was dependent on dialysis. He would ordinarily avail of this facility at the Narayan Hospital in Rakhial. But on May 12, when he went for his routine dialysis, the temperature gun detected a fever. His son, Aijaz pleaded with hospital authorities to treat him given how it is a Covid designated hospital, but they insisted they get a Covid test done, and refused to perfor the test themselves. When the family returned after getting the test done where it was discovered that Hasnuddin was indeed Covid-19 positive, Narayan Hospital reportedly refused to admit him saying they were full.

Abhijit CP, facility director at Narayana Hospital, told TOI hat they could not admit Saiyed as he was not a Covid-19 patient according to protocol. “When they came the next day, it’s possible that all of our 27 beds may have been occupied,” he added.

Now, in desperate need of dialysis, the patient was taken to GCS Medical College Hospital near Chamunda Bridge. But here they were told that if a patient was Covid-19 positive, he could only be treated for that. Then they went to Sola Civil Hospital and as his condition worsened, he was transferred to the Civil Hospital on May 14, where his treatment was again allegedly delayed on the pretext of waiting for an intervention by a specific doctor. Finally, the famiy was able to get help from Tapan Hospital that agreed to admit him. However, given how his comorbidity factor was already high due to his kidney disease and the inexcusable and unjust delay in his treatment, Hasnuddin passed away.


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