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Luxury treatment

While industrialists and businessmen seek high-end hospitals primarily for exclusivity and luxury, the second set of clients — politicians and actors — prefer it for privacy and security. Jaya Shroff Bhalla, Humaira Ansari and K V Lakshmana write.

health and fitness Updated: Aug 18, 2012 22:50 IST

The estranged Thackeray cousins made up when 51-year-old Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray underwent an angioplasty to unblock his clogged arteries with Raj at his bedside in Mumbai last month.

Once inseparable, the two Shiv Sena leaders reconciled after six years in a closely-watched political development that ended with Raj driving Uddhav home from hospital in his silver Mercedes.

The backdrop for this Bollywood-esque tear-jerking drama was Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital and Research Centre, which is the perennial favourite of city’s rich and famous. The hospital’s 11th floor is dedicated to four 600 sq-ft executive suites and 19 super-deluxe rooms. It was in one of these that actor Rajesh Khanna stayed three times this year before he passed away in July, while Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray was discharged from the hospital after a week’s treatment on August 1.

While industrialists and businessmen seek high-end hospitals primarily for exclusivity and luxury, the second set of clients — politicians and actors — prefer it for privacy and security.

“Most high-end corporate hospitals have tier services where people can choose their rooms as per their affordability. We have presidential suites in all our hospitals in Delhi — Escorts, La Femme, Fortis in Vasant Kunj — and the Gurgaon facility will also have similar suites in a month’s time,” said Dr Dilpreet Brar, regional director, Fortis Healthcare.

“The idea behind these luxury suites in hospitals is to take healthcare services at your doorstep. So while one is in hospital, the ambience makes the patient feel absolutely at home. These suites also ensure complete privacy,” she said. A presidential suite at Escorts costs Rs. 75,000 a day. With these suites having 40% occupancy all year round, there’s a definite demand for them.

Fortis La Femme’s presidential suite is where celeb moms-to-be go for their deliveries, as did santoor-player Ayaan Ali Khan’s wife Neema, who had twins there earlier this month.

The Apollo Hospitals Group, with its pan-India presence, is the choice for most senior politicians — former President KR Narayanan and former PMs Atal Bihari Vajpayee, VP Singh and Chandra Shekhar, to name a few — and filmstars, such as Dilip Kumar, Sashi Kapoor and Rajnikath.

Delhi’s Apollo Hospital offers 10 suites for Rs. 27,500 a night. “These are modern-service apartments that are chic, cheerful and personal, in the sense that they have a separate space for the patient’s companion. We use hypo-allergenic furnishing and easy-to-clean veneers to minimise discomfort and infection,” said Anjali Kapoor Bissell, vice president, special initiatives, Apollo Hospitals. These suites have 80% occupancy the year round, and the cost of a heart bypass package is up to Rs. 6 lakh.

While Chennai has mutispeciality hospitals such as Apollo Hospital, new entrants with very focused specialisation are also making news. Global Health City shot into news when Vilasrao Deshmukh shifted there from Mumbai last month with a failed liver and kidneys, while MIOT is where people go for anything and everything in orthopaedics.

Global Health City has positioned itself as a multi-locational, multi-organ transplant centre because of its network of cadaver donations, where organs from brain-dead persons are harvested and moved in special containers from across the city by coordinating with the police, which stops city traffic to create a green channel to ensure the ambulance reaches the recipient in the shortest possible time.

For a price, VIPs get world class facilities, secrecy and privacy. No one was allowed onto the first floor suite where Deshmukh was lodged earlier this month. “Our effort is to give them a ‘home away from home’ experience,” says Chandra Shekhar, executive director of the group. Since the high-end rooms are not particularly luxurious, the average cost of a heart bypass surgery at Global Health City is Rs. 3.5 lakh.