This is in sharp contrast to the free-of-cost treatment at government hospitals.
Hyderabad: Now that many states have allowed corporate hospitals to treat coronavirus or Covid-19 cases as government-run designated cure centers are filled to capacity, the private managements have pegged the starting package for a minimum 14-day stay at around Rs 10 lakh. This is in sharp contrast to the free of cost treatment at government hospitals. The upper limit of packages is even higher.
Initially, when Covid cases started coming in, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) had refused to allow private hospitals to admit or treat Covid patients on the ground that they can only be brought to the designated government hospitals in Hyderabad—Gandhi Hospital, Secunderabad, Chest Diseases Hospital or newly launched TIMS, (Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences) Gachibowli. However, gradually, the number of cases grew and in a recent ruling, the Telangana High Court ordered that private hospitals too be allowed to treat Covid patients, albeit under the guidelines of the ICMR. Of the around 2,000 private hospitals in Hyderabad, only 30 to 40 are eligible to take Covid cases under the ICMR guidelines. In most private hospitals, the starting packages range from Rs 10 lakh per two weeks’ stay, but some high-end hospitals charge up to Rs 12 lakh for the period. This is in addition to the treatment costs of other ailments (co-morbidity conditions) of the patient. If the stay exceeds two weeks, the patients will have to cough up to Rs 50,000 per day, according to sources from various Hyderabad hospitals. A Covid patient who has been unofficially taking treatment in a corporate hospital in Jubilee Hills in the city since 27 April has been billed for Rs 41 lakh, including costs of other ailments and he is expected to be discharged by Sunday, according to reliable sources in the hospital. Patients like him now can officially get admitted to private hospitals from now.
The KCR-led TRS government in Telangana issued orders on 20 May, permitting corporate hospitals in Hyderabad to admit Covid patients and treat them. Around three dozens of these private hospitals have officially begun taking Covid patients from the next day and fixed prices for a two-week long treatment.
Officially means these hospitals have been treating Covid patients off-the-record as they were admitted for other ailments and later found to be affected by the pathogen. “Yes, we have been seeing Covid patients right from March third week; they came to us on different complaints like heart, kidney, liver etc ailments,” said a corporate executive of a private hospital in Jubilee Hills, preferring anonymity.
Apollo, Care, Continental, KIMS and Star are the prominent corporate group hospitals which have been treating Covid patients for the last few weeks. As per an information with the medical and health department of the government, as many as 35 private hospitals have been admitting Covid patients, but none of them was officially allowed. However, from now onwards, they can treat them openly.
As many as 3,500 samples of Covid patients have been sent for testing at the laboratories of NIMS (Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences), a government run super-specialty in Hyderabad, by 35 private hospitals since March third week. Sources in the NIMS have confirmed that 112 of the samples have been tested Covid positive. All the tests were done free of cost. It’s not clear whether such patients were immediately shifted to government designated Gandhi Hospital in Secunderabad. “But, we have been receiving some patients in critical condition from these hospitals. Unfortunately, most of the deaths are from this category. Private hospitals have been throwing off their hands once a patient’s condition deteriorates and sending them to us,” said a Gandhi Hospital doctor.
Now, it will have to be seen whether the corporate hospitals can handle these cases. The corporate hospitals have justified higher fees for Covid patients citing ICMR guidelines. As per these rules, a hospital should have two entrances and two separate ICU wards and separate isolation blocks and two exclusive teams of doctors, nurses and other paramedics. “PPE kits costing Rs 4,500 each will have to be used by every member of staff on duty and the kits should not be used for more than four to five hours. All masks and gloves to be dry-cleaned regularly and sanitization costs are too high,” explained a representative of Care Hospital in Banjara Hills. Compared to government hospitals, here food is better, and patients will have an AC room and a TV to watch. When it comes to treatment protocol, it is the same in both government and private hospitals. “We too use the same paracetamol, hydroxychloroquin, azythromycin, ivermectin, remdesivir and multivitamins etc., just as in government designated hospitals,” said the Care executive. But the rich and affordable people prefer corporate hospitals as its suits their convenience. Most patients who go to private hospitals are covered by medical insurance. Telangana Health Minister Etela Rajender, too, justified permitting private hospitals to treat Covid cases as some people prefer to go there. “But our government hospitals are ready to take any number of people who come to us,” he said.