Vijayawada fire: Private hospitals roped in without verification


AMARAVATI: With Covid-19 cases rising by the day, the state government has started granting permission to private hospitals and NGOs to run Covid Care Centres to ease the burden on government healthcare institutions. However, no authority has undertaken a field inspection of these private Covid Care Centres before they begin to serve Covid-19 patients. Sources said more than 60 private hospitals in various cities and towns have been granted permission to treat Covid-19 patients.

Surprisingly, the permission letters issued by district collectors to private agencies do not mention anything about carrying out pre-inspection by line departments, including the medical and health, police, fire services and electricity departments. Many district collectors have granted permissions to private hospitals and NGOs based on the self-declarations submitted by them.

The fire mishap, which broke out at a hotel being used as a Covid-19 hospital in Vijayawada, has exposed the lapses on part of the authorities, who were blind to the operations of the private agencies.

It is being alleged that district collectors are rushing through the process of granting permissions to more private Covid Care Centres as they are under severe pressure to provide beds to patients in government-run hospitals.

According to a confidential report readied by the medical and health department, private hospitals and NGOs are handling around 12,500 beds in the state. “While 50% of the beds are available in the existing hospitals, the managements of private hospitals and NGOs have taken hotels on lease and converted them into paid Covid Care Centres. Neither any inspection by the authorities nor monitoring is mandatory as per the permission letter issued to private agencies,” said a senior official of health department.

Although, bringing in more beds and facilities available in private setups has helped the well-off sections, it has, however, allowed private hospitals to exploit the situation as they are charging exorbitant fees, said an electricity employee, who was recently discharged from Swarna Palace Covid Centre.

“The hospital management clearly told me before admission that the entire treatment will be done only through video-conference and no doctor will visit. They have kept nursing staff at our disposal and provided facilities including food. The very thought of the fire mishap is frightening,” he said.

Courtesy Times of india

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