Private hospitals continue to fleece coronavirus patients and their family members. The recent incident is of Mumbai where a COVID-19 patient was charged Rs 8,000 for just 200 metres ambulance ride. Mohammed Mudassar Shaikh, a resident of Kurla, told Healthwire that his sister-in-law had to be shifted to another hospital which was just 200 metres away and was made to pay Rs 8,000. That too after bargaining as initially the ambulance service demanded Rs 10,000.
According to Shaikh, he took her sister-in-law to Habib Hospital on June 2 after she started having breathing difficulties.
“The moment we reached the hospital, they asked me which package you want. Because of coronavirus pandemic, hospitals have started these packages just like hotels where they give three-day, five-day packages. There are three packages on per day basis in this hospital – Rs 15,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 35,000. As I am involved in social work, the hospital agreed to charge Rs 10,000 per day,” Shaikh said.
Shaikh claimed that these hospitals are asking people to choose a package without even checking the patient. Two days later, the hospital informed him that the patient is coronavirus positive and needs to be shifted to another hospital and asked him to pay the bill of Rs 52,000 for two days.
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“This is when I had already paid Rs 4,500 for COVID-19 test. Also, I gave them medicines worth Rs 25,000 in just two days. They also asked me to provide two units of blood. We don’t know what they did with all those medicines and blood as none of us were allowed inside,” said Shaikh.
“I requested local leaders to help and they assured me of help. I kept standing at the hospital for 3 hours but no one helped me. I had no option but to pay the entire amount. Then the hospital told me to hire an ambulance to shift the patient to Fauzia Hospital, just 200 metres away,” the man said.
Shaikh was told to contact the Mobile Care private ambulance service as there was no government ambulance available. An ambulance reached within a few minutes but they were asking for Rs 10,000. As the patient needed oxygen, he bargained and the fare was fixed at Rs 8,000.
“After transferring the patient when I asked for the bill, the driver of the ambulance said we don’t give it and this is how we are providing services these days. I made the video of the entire incident and uploaded it on social media,” Shaikh said.
This is happening despite the fact that the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has capped the COVID-19 treatment cost. Also, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has promised to provide a free ambulance service for coronavirus patients.