After MiD DAY carried a report about eight-year-old Rachita Palsamkar’s battle with life-threatening acute aplastic anaemia, moved readers donated a sum of Rs 4,29,000. Buoyed by this show of goodwill, the family was hopeful once again, but their joy evaporated soon. The hospital couldn’t provide the child expensive injections and platelets necessary for her treatment, and asked Rachita’s father to purchase them from pharmacies outside.
When he did get the drugs and showed the bills, the hospital refused to reimburse him for the same using the donated funds. Last week, hospital officials said that all the donated money had been used up, and asked the beleaguered parents to take their daughter home, saying that her condition wasn’t improving and they could not afford a longer stay.
In February, MiD DAY had reported on the plight of the Palsamkar family, who were struggling to amass funds for Rachita’s protracted treatment (‘8-year-old in dire need of marrow transplant,’ February 23). Concerned readers from across the city started sending cheques to Bombay Hospital in support for her treatment, which the hospital collected in a dedicated account for the patient. By March 1, the total donations had reached Rs 4,29,000.
Since the hospital did not reimburse Rachita’s father Jairam from the donated funds, he has been paying for injections that cost around Rs 7,000 each. He also has to shell out Rs 13,000 for each packet of platelets, three of which are required every week. The devastating blow came last week, when the hospital authorities informed the family that funds were drying up and would be exhausted soon. They then advised the Rachita’s father Jairam to take her back home, as he would not be able to afford further treatment.
Jairam said, “When I approached the billing department for reimbursements, they refused to give me the money. Moreover, they handed over a balance sheet claiming that the donations deposited with the hospital had been used to pay the hospital bills for the stay.” In the meantime, Rachita’s body has less than one per cent of the total antibodies required for her to be able to battle infection, which has spread from her abdomen to her chest and other parts of the body. On Friday, doctors informed Rachita’s parents that it was futile to keep her admitted at the hospital.
Dr Shrikant Wagh, a hematologist at Bombay hospital who is treating Rachita said, “The patient’s body is not responding to the high dosage of antibiotics we have been administering her. During her stay at our hospital we have tried several types of antibiotics. Her body shows slight improvement within 24 hours of being given the medicine but soon her condition deteriorates.” He added, “With the donated funds having been used for her treatment so far, it is advisable that the family take her home. They are not in a position to support the medical bills and continuing her stay will add up to more expensive bills. We have prescribed the necessary medicines and the parents can give her the dosage at home.”
A heart-broken Jairam now fears that once Rachita is taken home she may contract more infections that could prove fatal for her. An official from the billing department, said, “The hospital policy does not have a provision to reimburse outside bills. The deposits from donors will be used for the expenses incurred for the patient’s treatment within the hospital and the medicines bought from the pharmacy within the hospital.” Dr Sagar Sakle, spokesperson of Bombay Hospital, said, “The hospital will never ask a patient to buy injections or medicines from outside if the stock is available in our pharmacy. The hospital cannot reimburse such bills from the donations collected for the patient’s treatment.”