THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the state government tightening its control over the private healthcare institutions in the state by regularising Covid-19 treatment cost and capping the prices of medical items including PPE kits, masks etc, many small and medium hospitals have expressed helplessness in continuing their involvement in the fight against the pandemic. This is happening at a time when Covid-19 cases are surging.
According to Kerala Private Hospitals Association (KPHA), the government decision would derail the Covid-19 treatment being provided by the private hospitals and leave scores of patients at the receiving end. There are around 1,500 medium and major private healthcare institutions in the state that are involved in Covid treatment. As per directions, the private hospitals have set aside 50% of their beds for Covid treatment.
“The PPE kits used by private hospitals are of 90 GSM standards and we cannot put our staff at risk by using low-quality PPEs as the government wants now. Many of the private institutions in the state have been actively involved in their fight against the pandemic. The government had allowed hospitals to charge at the KASP (Karunya Arogya Suraksha Padhathi) rate of Rs 1,000 for a PPE kit. Now, it has capped the rate at Rs 273. We approached some of the manufacturers and they cannot afford to provide good-quality protective gear at this rate. We want the government to make available quality protective gear at the rate fixed by it. We are ready to procure the kits from the government,” said Dr E K Ramachandran, state treasurer of KPHA.
He said the government took such a decision without proper thinking, that too at a time when the state is going through the Covid peak. “Many private hospitals have hired more staff to manage the patient load as bystanders are not allowed with Covid patients. These employees are being paid an additional allowance for Covid duty. No government with progressive thinking would adopt such a policy. This is being implemented without proper study,” said Ramachandran.
He said instead of putting the private hospitals in such a bad situation, the government should cover the treatment cost of the patients being treated at private hospitals. “Other states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are giving Covid-19 treatment for free and the Kerala government should also do the same,” added Ramachandran.
A doctor and owner of a small private Covid hospital in Thiruvananthapuram told TNIE that they are unable to run the hospital. “I converted my hospital into a Covid exclusive hospital after the state government fixed the treatment costs. Being a doctor, I just wanted to do my bit after watching people run from pillar to post searching for oxygen beds. Mine is a 20-bed hospital and we cannot compromise on patient care or put our staff at risk. I have no other way but to shut down the hospital,” said the doctor.
“I buy PPE kits for Rs 995 per unit. I don’t know from where I could procure the medical items at the rates fixed by the government. We are working day and night without rest to give care to the patients and the government is portraying private hospitals as institutions that exploit the patients,” added the doctor.
‘State sabotaging quality of medical care’
According to KPHA, the government is sabotaging the quality of medical care being provided by private hospitals by fixing the rate of medical items
Pvt hospitals will not compromise on the quality of the protective gear given to their staff