As Covid cases surge, so does loot by Agra’s pvt hospitals

When Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma was told at an official meeting that the private hospitals in Agra were charging more than Rs 15,000 daily for Covid-19 patients, he was taken aback.

Sharma told district officials to adopt appropriate measures to bring down the tariff at par with Lucknow where the daily charges were Rs 6,800.

In the last 10 days there have been numerous complaints against the private nursing homes for overcharging distressed Corona patients and their kin. The bills worked out to more than Rs 1 lakh for a week’s stay at the facility. A level-3 nursing home charges around Rs 17,000 a day with ventilator and ICU support while the level-1 charge on an average around Rs 11,000 a day.

These rates are 10X to 12X the tariff fixed by the state government. The nursing home owners say the patients want ‘A’ class facilities and are willing to pay for it. A section of the society feels no cost is too high for a life saved, a private hospital manager said.

The general perception about government hospitals is negative. “You go with one problem and return with two,” a patient who recovered at a private hospital said.

However, the doctors at the district hospital and the SN Medical College Covid hospital vehemently deny the charge. “We are giving high quality services and the recovery rate reflects this. SN Medical College is fully equipped with latest gadgetry and facilities to take up any challenge. Don’t forget a number of critical cases are referred to us here by the private nursing homes,” a senior government doctor claimed.

The IMA meanwhile, has offered a Rs 600 daily package for those in home quarantine. The expenses on medicines and equipment are separate but consultations by the specialists and frequent monitoring is included in the fees, Dr Sanjay Chaturvedi, secretary IMA told IANS.

Meanwhile, 33 fresh cases were reported in the past 24 hours taking the Agra tally to 2,136. The number of active cases has increased to 318, while the number of recovered stands at 1,717. So far, 68,149 samples have been tested.

In Mathura 33 new cases were reported, over a dozen from the ISKCON temple complex. Mainpuri reported 22, Etah 21, Firozabad 22 and Kasganj 13.

District authorities in Mathura clarified that outsiders would not be allowed to enter the Sri Krishna shrines in Braj Mandal. Rituals connected with the Sri Krishna Janamashtmi will be streamed live for the benefit of the devotees.

“Like Raksha Bandhan, Janamashtmi festival will also be on a low key, the fervour is clearly missing,” a ‘Panda’ of the Vishram Ghat said.

“Vrindavan lanes are deserted, even the simians are distressed, the morale is low, may be Sri Krishna will dispel the clouds of gloom,” hoped Jagan Nath Poddar, convener of Braj-Vrindavan Alliance.

So far the trend continues to remain alarming. For the local administration, the new worry is the spread of Dengue and Malaria. The health department of the municipal corporation has stepped up sanitisation and cleaning work. People have been told to ensure there was no stored water around, an official of the District Malaria office said.