The Delhi government recently launched a unique “Delhi Corona” application (app) for the general public to get access to the number of Covid-9 patients in the city and stay informed about healthcare facilities around them. The information mentioned in the app includes details of the availability of beds (general and ICU) in both government and private hospitals. While there are 11 private hospitals deployed in the treatment of Covid-19 patients in the national capital, it has come to notice that there has been discrepancy on the number of beds as per the app and the number of beds given by the private hospitals. The Daily Guardian did a reality check to find out what exactly is the situation on ground zero. This paper contacted several private hospitals over a period of two days by calling on the numbers provided by the hospitals and the picture which emerged was disappointing, to say the least.
The first hospital this paper checked on was Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. While the “Delhi Corona App” showed that there were 20 beds available in the hospital, the management had a different story to tell. They said that those beds were already being waitlisted for other patients to occupy. It was also known that the cost of a bed per day is Rs 30,000- 40,000 and in case the patient needs ventilation, the charge is Rs 80,000 per day for a bed.
Dr D.S. Rana, Chairman (Board of Management) of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told The Daily Guardian: “Delhi Corona App is being updated twice a day. In between updating, there will be discharges and fresh new admissions. At a given time, the exact situation of vacant beds will be available on Delhi Corona application once it is upgraded to have live data. On the other hand, SGRH has made its own app (info. sgrh.com). This app will reveal real-time data not only to our Nodal Officers but also to patients. Public can see real time availability of beds on the above URL.” “Our per day charges for Covid-19 varies depending on category and condition of patient. Approximate charges for non-ICU patients is between Rs 22,000-32,000 per day. For ICU patients, it will vary from Rs 47,000- 62,000 per day. This includes PPE and consumable cost,” Dr Rana added.
It was a similar story at BL Kapoor Hospital. The app clearly showed that there were beds available, but the hospital again had a different take. No clarity was given to about the mismatch. The cost of one bed in the hospital is Rs 40,000-50,000 for a day and the cost of an ICU bed is Rs 70,000-80,000 per day at the time of admission. A patient is usually admitted for 14-15 days and the charges may increase if the patient›s condition worsens.
BL Kapoor Hospital was contacted again on the next day and the management said the following: “The Covid app of the government of Delhi is rightly indicating that all 123 Covid beds are occupied at BLK Hospital (updated at 09:56 am on June 11). The medical charges for Covid patients depend on the condition of the patient, the room category opted, the nature of treatment, etc. The hospital counsels each patient about the financial estimates at the time of admission. As directed by the government of Delhi, we have displayed the approximate charges for the treatment at the admission desk and are also in the process of displaying the approximate charges for different room categories outside the hospital.”
Saroj Super Speciality Hospital had issued their rate card, but they were not admitting any Covid-19 patients currently due to what they call shortage of nursing staff in the hospital. According to the app, there were 106 beds available in the hospital, but the management had not given a clear picture on this. Efforts to find the real picture meant that one oscillated between one phone number to another.
An internal circular dated 4 June was issued by Saroj Super Specialty Hospital and Saroj Medical Institute, Rohini, which stated, “Rs 3 lakh will be the minimum bill irrespective of the number of days of stay or category of each patient…patient will be admitted only after an advance (payment) of Rs 4 lakh for admission in twoand three-bedded categories, Rs 5 lakh for single room and Rs 8 lakh for admission in ICU.” Charges included in the package are for stay, food, medicines, investigations, miscellaneous and NRI charges, but it does not include other specialty and treatment charges which will be twice of the hospital rate list. In Park Hospital, the average cost per day is Rs 33,000-40,000 for an ICU bed and Rs 10,000-15,000 for ward beds. There were 35 beds vacant according to the app, but again, the hospital authorities did not say the exact number on questioning.
On the other hand, HAHC and Fortis Escort Heart Institute did not receive the calls despite several attempts being made to contact them. Another thing that came to notice through these telephonic conversations was the amount of time one needs to spend on calling the hospitals to get Covid-19 related details. Most of the hospitals kept on transferring the calls from one department/person to another with nobody willing to come and say anything on record or solve any query.
To ensure admission of corona patients, the Delhi government has opened a 24×7 help-desk at all hospitals and a senior nursing officer has been deployed to ensure that the Centre government›s protocols are followed. It had previously come to the notice of the government that a few private hospitals have not been ethical in charging fees for Covid-19 treatment, hence the government has asked all hospitals to display the full rate list of services, especially in the reception area and adjacent to the billing counter.
The keeper of a nursing home, under the Delhi Nursing Homes Registration (Amendment) Rules 2011, is required to ensure that hospital displays its service charges prominently and, hence, the government issued the order using this law. Non-compliance of this order will be considered as violation of the 2011 Amendment and action will be taken against any such hospital.
The Delhi government has made it compulsory for all nursing homes and private hospitals to provide real time data on the available facilities. All private hospitals and nursing homes in Delhi with bed strength of 50 or more have also been asked to reserve at least 20% of beds for treatment of Covid-19 patients. The L-G has also issued strict instructions to all private hospitals that all the norms have to be followed. The mismatch between Delhi Corona App and the private hospitals, however, continues.