No free treatment in Mumbai’s private hospitals for Covid-19 patients
On March 26, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope had said under the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY) free treatment at private hospitals for Covid-19 wil be provided from April 1.
The free medical treatment for Covid-19 patients under the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY) from April 1 announced by Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope look like a non-starter as none of the private hospitals in Mumbai listed under the scheme have coronavirus isolation wards.
Under the scheme, poor patients have medical insurance of Rs 1,50,000 at the empanelled hospitals. Considering the growing cases of Covid-19, Tope in a webcast address via Facebook on March 26 said that the scheme will provide free treatment at private hospitals for Covid-19 from April 1.
A total of 42 hospitals in the city offer the scheme. This includes 27 private hospitals including a few dialysis centres. HT has the list of the health centres. But none of the enlisted hospitals under the scheme like HCG, Apex, Sushruta, KJ Somaiya, HJ Doshi, Lifeline Hospitals among others have COVID-19 isolation wards which is compulsory to treat patients with SARS-CoV-2 as per the rules of Union Health Ministry.
“If they don’t have the isolation wards then why did the government declare that it would provide free treatment from April 1? Is this an April Fool joke? The state health government should have thought about the emergency situation beforehand,” said Dr Ravikant Singh, a health activist.
Currently, the state government has approved around 100 isolation beds in 15 private hospitals- Jaslok, HN Reliance, Hinduja, Kokilaben, Raheja, Bombay, Lilavati among others. However, none of these hospitals come under MJPJAY.
That means, people will not get free treatment until either the government starts isolation wards in their registered hospitals or brings all the private hospitals in the city with Covid-19 facilities under its umbrella.
The Maharashtra health department is yet to formulate a policy about it.
“Under the scheme, we have 1,000 hospitals so we need to make a policy decision if we should treat coronavirus patients in all hospitals or at limited hospitals for the safety of all the other patients,” said Sudhakar Shinde, CEO of MJPJAY.
“But this benefit will be given only to those who are taking treatment at our empanelled hospitals. If anyone wants to take treatment in Lilavati or Breach Candy hospital, we can’t cover them,” he added.
But granting permission to all hospitals to start isolation wards has its own shortcomings in a state where the state government is grappling with a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). “Not all hospitals have the required infrastructure to treat Covid-19 patients which can put the lives of other uninfected patients at risk. Also, we don’t have enough materials to supply PPE, sanitizers or masks to so many hospitals. Thus, we need time to inspect and make a list of the hospitals,” said a senior health officer on condition of anonymity.