The pulse is picking up
Since he was diagnosed with cardiac disease eight years ago, B.P. Singh, 62, a resident of Faridabad — Delhi’s oldest satellite town, situated across the south-east border of the Capital — takes a day off every month to get a check-up barely an hour-long, at a Delhi hospital.delhi Updated: May 18, 2010 23:31 IST
Since he was diagnosed with cardiac disease eight years ago, B.P. Singh, 62, a resident of Faridabad — Delhi’s oldest satellite town, situated across the south-east border of the Capital — takes a day off every month to get a check-up barely an hour-long, at a Delhi hospital. The reason: there are no good multi-specialty hospitals near his home in Sector 46.
“Apart from the wasted day, the very thought of spending Rs 550 on a cab to travel 40 kms exhausts me,” said Singh. “I wish Faridabad had good healthcare.”
But now it seems Singh’s prayers are beginning to get answered.
Faridabad recently got two state-of-the-art multi-specialty hospitals and plans for two more — including a government medical college — are in the pipeline. Charging much less than hospitals in Delhi, these facilities provide care a stone’s throw away from most neighbourhoods of the Haryana town.
For years, Faridabad suffered medical neglect. A decade ago, the district had only 814 hospitals beds (public and private), grossly inadequate for a population of 10 lakh. Though the industrial town has grown exponentially since and now supports a population of about 15 lakh, till six months ago, it boasted of just one major hospital: Fortis Escorts at Neelam Bata road.
The only government hospital — B.K. Hospital, with a bed strength of 200 — is not equipped to provide super-specialty care.
“Until last year, Fortis was the only option with a brand value, for people with something more serious than the common flu,” says Singh.
Which is why when private facility Asian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) became functional in February 2010, more than 200 patients showed up at its doorstep on Day One.
“My primary aim was to stop people from travelling out of Faridabad by providing them top-of-the-line treatment at one-fourth the cost of Delhi,” says Dr N.K. Pandey, founder of AIMS and President, Association of Surgeons of India.
In October 2009, the small clinic Metro Heart Institute added super-speciality departments and 200 beds.
For any Out Patient Department (OPD) consultation, AIMS charges Rs 150, and Metro has a fee of Rs 200. Corporate hospitals in Delhi charge anything between Rs 600 and Rs 800 for an OPD consultation.
The proximity also helps patients reach medical attention quickly in an emergency, saving thousands of lives. “On an average, I do 110 angioplasties per month. Forty per cent of these were emergency cases and required immediate aid. Earlier, as 50 per cent of such people would lose their lives while being transported to a hospital outside Faridabad,” says Dr S.S. Bansal, senior consultant cardiologist and managing director of Metro hospital.
The situation was worse for people who could not afford the cost of treatment at a private hospital in Delhi and were referred to government-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) or Safdarjung hospital. “It is pointless going to these places, as they never have beds vacant,” says Rani Devi, 23, whose husband underwent a joint replacement at AIMS after being hit by a tempo last week. “We are satisfied with the quality of treatment here.”
A Haryana government tie-up with these two private hospitals makes it possible for government employees and BPL (below poverty line) patients to get treated free for diseases that require highly specialised care.
But a lot more needs to be done, feel some. “No doubt things have improved over the past six months, but there's always scope for improvement. For certain highly specialised areas such as organ transplant, we still are dependent on Delhi,” says Dr Tina Banerjee, a general physician, who works with a local government hospital.