Covid-19 & Chennai’s private hospitals: Reality check by ‘NT’

Chennai: With the number of Covid-19 patients in Chennai increasing day by day, what does it take for a person with coronavirus symptoms to get admitted to a private hospital?

Are there beds available? What is the fees structure? With these questions in mind, News Today  approached some healthcare institutions and the answers were far from satisfactory.

Despite the government putting a cap on the tariff, which ran into lakhs earlier (from many lakhs, it has now come to a few lakhs), the treatment cost at private hospitals still remains unaffordable for the middle class and the poor. And, even if a person comes forward to spend the money demanded, admission at private hospitals is still not a sure thing, as most of them have run out of beds.

When this reporter contacted hospitals seeking treatment for a possible Covid-19 patient, many of them said the wards and rooms were full.

Speaking on behalf of a relative who underwent a Covid-19 test and was awaiting the result, this correspondent dialled leading private hospitals in the city.

With 300 beds reserved for Covid patients, this hospital was on the list given by the government. One of its staff members said they have fixed the fees between Rs 7,0000 and Rs 14,000 per day. “The bill will vary on complications and the investigations doctors may have to conduct. However, all 33 beds at ICU were taken.”

The hospital also has beds for just quarantining. No medical treatment will be given and a patient can take one for Rs 3,000 a day.

Another hospital had beds available at the Covid-19 ward for Rs 9,700 per day. And to get admission at the ICU, the patient has to cough up Rs 17,500. Again, this is excluding other charges which would vary depending upon the condition of the patient. The hospital is currently treating 41 Coronavirus patients.

“The daily amount is inclusive of medicines, injections and PPE kits”, the hospital said.

While no one attended our calls to a couple of other hospitals (we dialled the number given in the government’s list), a few other hospitals said they would get back to us (to give details about treatment cost and bed availability) after consulting their seniors and are yet to reach us.

When contacted, a Health department official said that only after receiving complaints about exorbitant charges collected by hospitals, the government decided to cap the fees. “If they still continue to charge extra, necessary action will be taken,” the official added.

 

Naomi N