Amid lockdown, this Kolkata hospital is conducting dialysis at Rs 50 only
At a time when most patients are facing increased medical expenses for hospital treatment due to increased cost of operation in the hospitals and increased transport cost, a small hospital in Kolkata is conducting dialysis for patients with kidney ailments at Rs 50 only.
The hospital in central Kolkata, named Kolkata Swasthya Sankalp, has been a low-cost dialysis centre essentially for the poor and used to charge Rs 350 per dialysis. This is nearly one third of the cost of dialysis at government-hospitals.
“We had designed the hospital in a low-cost manner. There is no air-conditioning, no lift, no reception and no waiting area for patients’ families. Of the three doctors, only one resident doctor gets a stipend. Others, including myself, offer services for free. So, we managed to keep our usual rate at Rs 350 per dialysis,” Fuad Halim, who runs the hospital said.
The five-bedded hospital attached to Halim’s residence on Dr. Md Ishaque Road has nine dialysis machines. During the two months of the lockdown, the hospital also witnessed a change in the background of its patients.
According to Halim, only the poor used to visit the hospital before lockdown but since the lockdown even people belonging to the lower middle class have been visiting it. To handle this added pressure a new dialysis machine was installed.
“After lockdown, we realized that patients had to cough up more money for transport. So, we decided to subsidise the cost from our corpus. At least 1,571 dialysis were conducted between March 26 and May 28 at Rs 50 per dialysis,” Halim said.
Halim is also a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. His father, Hasim Abdul Halim, was Bengal’s longest-serving Assembly speaker.
According to a patient who did not want to reveal his identity, “I worked as a salesman at a prominent market. Previously, I used to visit a better hospital, which has recently increased its rates saying Covid-19 precautions have increased their medical costs. I could not afford it anymore, especially with no income for two months.”
Mirza Hassan, a resident of Park Circus whose uncle underwent dialysis here, said, “This hospital comes as a great hope despite the inconveniences. We were not in a position to take my uncle to any other nursing home because of the increased cost of transport and increased rates at the nursing home.”
While the patients undergo dialysis, their family members wait nearby.Each dialysis takes about four hours.
Doctors in the city said private nursing homes usually charge between Rs 1,200 and Rs 1,500 per dialysis but increased them to over Rs 2,000 since lockdown.
“We had to increase the rate due to the increased costs on account of sanitization, PPE and masks,” said the owner of a private nursing home in south Kolkata who did not want to speak on record.