Closure of OPD services puts poor patients to great difficulty

The District Civil Hospital in Belagavi where out-patient services have remained closed causing inconvenience to poor patients.  

The poor are greatly inconvenienced by the closure of the out-patient department in the District Civil Hospital that has been converted into a dedicated COVID-19 hospital.

The civil hospital in Belagavi is among the biggest in the State that treats over 3,500 out-patients every day and can accommodate over 750 in-patients at a time.

It has almost all departments of primary secondary and tertiary care. Its potential to treat patients has deepened and widened after it was attached to the Belagavi Institute of Medical Sciences.

Teachers with post-graduate and higher degrees, post-graduate students, tutors and internees were added to the pool of doctors who were already serving in the hospital. Also included were a hi-tech pathological laboratory and an upgraded drug store.

Sometime in July, the government decided to close down the out-patient department after some doctors and staff in the department contracted the coronavirus infection. Since then, the OPD wing of the hospital has shut its door, leaving the poor who frequented the hospital helpless.

Since the whole hospital has been converted into a COVID treatment centre, it does not admit non-COVID patients. This has forced the poor to go to private hospitals or to other districts or to Maharashtra or Goa for surgeries and treatment that require admission or overnight stay. Interestingly, a majority of the beds in the COVID hospital are empty. On Friday, only 80 of the 750 beds set apart for COVID-19 patients were occupied.

This is because the government allowed positive persons to choose between government and private hospitals and COVID Care Centres. Non-serious patients were also advised home isolation.

Private hospitals, on the other hand, face allegations of charging hefty fees. Not a single private hospital is following the government mandated fee structure for COVID-19 patients.

Private hospitals are charging between ₹ 1 lakh and ₹ 3 lakh for four days, billed between ₹ 20,000 and ₹ 60,000 per night.

A 10-day stay in a private hospital costs between ₹ 4 and ₹ 9 lakh per person, says Sujit Mulgund, anti-corruption activist.

“Sadly, the government is not enforcing its advisory. Several of my complaints against private hospitals have been ignored,” he said.

On Saturday, a pregnant woman had to wait in front of the District Civil Hospital for hours, before her family realised that the hospital did not admit non-COVID-19 patients.

Social workers helped her by informing doctors at the Navjeevan Hospital who agreed to help her.

The poor woman from Gotagali village near Khanapur came to the hospital at midnight and waited for hours.

Social workers Santosh Darekar and Ganesh Rokade, who heard of this, got in touch with Satish Chougliar, a doctor at Navjeevan Hospital who agreed to help.

The patient was shifted and went into labour soon. The woman was delivered of a baby boy in the normal process.

Deputy Commissioner M.G. Hiremath said that he would seek directions from the Department of Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education about restarting OPD services in the civil hospital.

District in-charge Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi said that he would discuss the issue with the Chief Minister.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 6:11:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/closure-of-opd-services-puts-poor-patients-to-great-difficulty/article33061948.ece

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