An expensive journey for Covid patients

RTA officials carrying out a drive to check on the price charged by ambulance service providers in Visakhapatnam
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RTA officials carrying out a drive to check on the price charged by ambulance service providers in Visakhapatnam

Highlights

Visakhapatnam: From the time a person is diagnosed with the symptoms of Covid-19 to the time the treatment concludes, patients are being looted generou...

Visakhapatnam: From the time a person is diagnosed with the symptoms of Covid-19 to the time the treatment concludes, patients are being looted generously in private hospitals. The wallet starts getting drained from the moment one approaches a testing facility.

Most government facilities are not carrying out corona virus testing in a consistent manner. After making repeated visits, people are left with no other choice than to approach a private lab for the purpose wherein each testing costs anywhere from Rs 500 to Rs 1,500.

Once the person is tested positive for corona virus, the hunt for hospital admission begins. Although a number of patients with mild symptoms and those who are asymptomatic prefer home isolation, patients who need critical care are seeking admission into the hospital.

Even to access an ambulance service to reach the hospital, a hefty sum is being charged.

As it takes a minimum of 5 hours to access a free 108 ambulance service, people seek the support of private ambulance service, especially when the patient's condition becomes critical.

Taking advantage of the situation, the private ambulance service is demanding an exorbitant price from the patients. "When we sought a private ambulance service within 5-km radius of the city, the service provider demanded Rs 10,000 for shifting my mother, who was tested positive for corona virus, to the hospital," says a resident of Akkayyapalem.

The cost is even further if the distance is longer. As the occupancy in emergency wards in government hospitals continues to be full, some of the ambulances are used to provide critical care to the patients.

Followed by several complaints about the exorbitant price charged by the ambulance service provider, the Road Transport Authorities' officials are carrying out a special drive. "When an ambulance charges excess rate, we will seize the vehicle for a month and registration of the vehicle will also be suspended," cautions GC Raja Ratnam, Deputy Transport Commissioner.

He appealed to people to bring such discrepancies to his notice so that action will be taken against the violators.

Given the rise in corona virus cases, the beds in government hospitals are getting filled up in no time. With this, the critical Covid patients are approaching corporate hospitals.

The exercise of liberal fleecing in such hospitals is quite apparent.

While getting treated in these hospitals is one part of the challenge, in case if the patients succumb to the virus, the struggle continues till the body reaches the burial ground for cremation.

Shifting the deceased to the crematorium turns out to be even more expensive exercise for the family members. To perform the last rites of the corona virus patient, one has to shell out Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 per cremation.

Depending on the number of bodies received per day, the rate for cremation goes up at Chavulamadum cremation ground.

From testing positive for corona virus to reaching the graveyard, the journey of those succumbing to corona virus appears to be quite expensive.

Unless the government monitors the treatment in the private healthcare sector, getting treated for corona virus turns out to be financially burdensome for a number of patients.

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