BENGALURU: Family members and people from the Human Rights Anti-Corruption Bureau staged a protest outside St. Philomena's Hospital on Saturday, after hospital authorities refused to discharge a patient over non-payment of the bill.
Priya was admitted 21 days ago after she contracted COVID-19 from her husband, a painter by profession. "We were shocked by the bill of Rs 7.4 lakh. We cannot afford such an exorbitant amount. We had only Rs 10,000 with us and managed to pay Rs 35,000 in total to admit her, by taking loans from people," said Andrew, Priya's husband.
She was initially referred from KC General Hospital to St. Philomena's, where the hospital stated that the bill will cost approximately Rs 1 lakh. When the family made it clear they cannot afford it, they asked her to pay whatever she had. When the final bill turned out to be Rs 7.4 lakhs, the family struggled and put together Rs 2.5 lakh for her medicines and other facilities of the hospital. However, the hospital refused to let her go until she paid the entire amount.
Her uncle with the help of members from the Human Rights Anti-Corruption Bureau staged a protest and negotiated with the hospital. Santosh Kumar, general secretary of the Bureau said," Last night we got a call from Andrew's family. When we visited the hospital, they refused to release her until we cleared the bill. We held a silent protest outside at 12.15 pm and spoke with the administration thereafter at 1 pm. We negotiated with them till 7.30 pm and they agreed to settle the bill at Rs 1 lakh."
"We told the hospital that if they cannot make a concession for poor people, we would take it up with Medical Education Minister Dr. K Sudhakar," Kumar added. The hospital finally agreed to let her go after she paid another Rs 1 lakh, which was pooled in with the help of do-gooders from the Bureau.