Poojari after his release from the hospital. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
When it rains, it pours. A day after mid-day highlighted the plight of 46-year-old Shekhar Poojari, a physically challenged waiter who was allegedly being forced to stay at the Hinduja Hospital without discharge for five days for failure to pay his Rs 1.60 lakh bill, and pointed out that it was in violation to the rules of Charity Commission, he was finally discharged – with his bill waived off.
Poojari gets to go home after over 20 days of hospital stay
On June 17, Poojari had to be admitted to the hospital due to a medical scare, but when he was to be discharged on July 3, he was given a bill for `1.60 lakh. He then attempted to tell the authorities that he qualified for a 50 per cent concession under the Charity Commission, but the hospital at the time refused to accept the documents.
Activists step up
Poojari is 80 per cent handicapped and also belongs to the 'weaker section' patients category, wherein his income is less than `1 lakh a year, thus making him eligible for the concession. However, the hospital stated that, "since this was not clarified at the time of admission, it could not be considered now".
Even the efforts of his colleagues to talk an arrangement with the authorities or collect `50,000 to pay off part of the bill came to no fruition. To make matters worse though, the hospital refused to discharge Poojari, thus adding to his already inflated bill, against his will. This, the activists said was a violation of human and patients' rights.
Following up on the mid-day story, several human right activists met with the hospital authorities to help out the long-ailing patient. Rugnamitra Jitendra Tandel from Rugnakalyan Seva Samajik Sanstha, an NGO working for patients' rights, raised the issue with the hospital's Patient Relations Department, along with others in tow.
He said, "This was a special case as he is 80 per cent handicapped. Under the commission, 20 per cent beds of trust-run hospitals need to be reserved for patients coming from poor-economic background. But often, these hospitals refuse to provide the service just to save their own money."
"On Monday morning, a doctor came and informed me that I would be discharged soon, but have to pay around 50 per cent of the total bill. Later, another hospital staffer asked me to go to the bill counter and pay up, but when I reached the counter, they gave me all the documents and didn't charge me anything," said a relived Poojari, adding, "I am really thankful to mid-day for highlighting my plight."
Speaking to mid-day, his wife Ushakiran said, "I was contemplating selling my jewellery to bring him out of the hospital. We have been trying for days to get him the discharge after his story was reported, he has not only been discharged, but we also didn't have to pay any money."
Repeated attempts to contact Hinduja authorities yielded no results and they didn't respond to mid-day's texts or calls.
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