BHUBANESWAR: With a significant drop in inflow of patients in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak, private hospitals in Bhubaneswar seem to have devised a new mechanism to mint money. Despite a clear instruction from State Government to all hospitals and clinics not to harass patients, some hospitals are allegedly keeping Covid-19 patients in ICU instead of shifting them to dedicated Covid Hospital as per protocol which provides them an opportunity to make charge heavily.

As the Government looks the other way, poor and gullible patients with little knowledge about treatment procedures and protocols for shifting are forced to spend their hard-earned savings. 

Sample this. One Pawan Kumar Sethy (54) of Rourkela was admitted to a private hospital here on July 21 following cardiac complications. Though his condition improved after initial treatment, he tested positive for Covid-19. His son Sujit Sethy alleges that the hospital authorities are paying no heed to his repeated appeals for shifting his father to a Covid hospital.

“My father tested positive on July 24. The hospital staff told me that BMC authorities have been informed and will send an ambulance to move the patient to KIMS. Three days have passed, the vehicle is yet to arrive. I do not know if they actually intimated,” he said. Hospital bills show that he was charged for the Covid test on July 21.

Sujit said instead of making arrangements for referring his father, the hospital continued to charge money for ICU, diagnostics, medicines and other safety kits. “They have raised a bill amounting to `1.48 lakh. I have already paid `1 lakh. I do not know how long will this continue. I am unable to pay more. If shifted to a Covid hospital, he will get free treatment,” he said.   

Strangely, Sujit is unsure how his father, a vegetable vendor, contracted the infection. Pawan was initially admitted to IGH, Rourkela before being referred to VIMSAR, Burla. He had tested negative for Covid-19 at both the hospitals. Pawan’s is not the only case though.

Sources said, the private hospital has kept several patients under treatment though Government is yet to allow private hospitals to treat Covid patients.

As per the prevailing guideline, a private hospital has to shift a patient to Covid hospital once he/she tested positive.  Contacted, Additional Chief Secretary of Health department PK Mohapatra said he would look into the allegation. He informed that the Govt is working on a policy to allow private hospitals to treat patients who are willing to pay. In fact, many large states have already allowed private hospitals to treat Covid patients.

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