She had been receiving treatment for kidney disorder for 13 long years

Fifteen-year-old Neha was in for a rude surprise recently when the St. Stephen’s Hospital, Tis Hazari, which had been treating her for 13 years (under the economically weaker section category) for her kidney disorder told her that medical services to her were being withdrawn.

“The hospital told us that Neha is not welcome anymore,” said the girl’s aunt, who works as a domestic help.

“Neha, who lost her mother as a child, was later abandoned by her father. She now lives with her grandmother, who has been taking care of her and her medical requirements,” said her aunt.

Worried about the child’s condition, social activist and lawyer Ashok Agarwal intervened and has now written to St. Stephen’s Hospital authorities asking them to review the case.

“The hospital has been providing free treatment to the child for nearly 13 years and she has also been admitted there on various occasions. However, on July 15, when her grandmother brought her to the hospital, she was told by the social worker that it will no longer extend free treatment to her and that she would have to bear all the expenses,’’ noted Mr. Agarwal’s letter.

“Neha has no parental support and is looked after by her maternal grandmother, who belongs to the economically weaker section of society. We request the hospital to take a considerate view of the case,’’ he added.

Speaking to The Hindu on Saturday, hospital director Sudhir Joseph maintained that the child had come to the hospital on a day when her ‘treating doctor’ was not available and that she was only told that she needs to come back another day. “The patient is welcome and we promise to look after her,” he said.

This, however, is not the only complaint against the hospital. Patients coming here have complaint about the recent hike in medical charges, which have made it “virtually out of bounds for the middle class’’. “The hospital carries out a 5-6 per cent hike annually to stay afloat and counter inflation,’’ noted Dr. Joseph.

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