Coronavirus outbreak: Bad news just got worse for dialysis patients amid COVID-19 crisis

Updated: May 24, 2020, 11:35 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

With private hospitals set to dedicate 80 percent of their beds for COVID, dialysis procedures may take a hit, leaving patients in a quandary

Patients wait for the COVID-19 test at Surana Sethia Hospital, Chembur, which is also a dialysis centre
Patients wait for the COVID-19 test at Surana Sethia Hospital, Chembur, which is also a dialysis centre

Mumbai's dialysis patients, who are already running from pillar to post for treatment, have to brace for yet another storm. Starting Monday, many private hospitals, on the BMC's order, will be dedicating 80 per cent of their beds for COVID-19 patients. Due to this, some of the hospitals will no longer be able to continue with the dialysis procedure. "The BMC's decision is going to hit us hard. Most hospitals are giving preference to existing patients, and those from other hospitals have to go through a battery of tests," said Sudha Hariharan, a resident of Chembur, who has been going for weekly dialysis sessions at Surana Sethia Hospital.

The Chembur-based hospital has now asked patients to visit their Sanpada branch, which is nearly 45 minutes away.

Hariharan added, "Many of the patients suffer from acute kidney disease, and are often diabetic or senior citizens. Some of them live alone and barely manage to reach the nearest hospital. The lockdown had already made it difficult, and now it will only get worse."

Khar resident Jeetu Shenoy, 56
Khar resident Jeetu Shenoy, 56

Dr Prince Surana, CEO of Surana Sethia Hospital confirmed that the Chembur hospital will be converted into a COVID hospital starting Monday. Of the 45 beds in the hospital, 25 will be reserved for COVID patients. In a week's time, the entire hospital will be dedicated for those who test positive for the virus. Dr Surana said that only dialysis patients who are COVID-19 positive will be allowed to use their dialysis unit.

A resident of Ghatkopar East whose wife, a dialysis patient tested positive for COVID-19, and is now back home post treatment, shared the ordeal they experienced. "We had to reach out to numerous hospitals for admission, when she was tested positive for COVID-19 and required weekly dialysis. The hospitals were clueless," said the man, who did not wish to be identified. He feels that a COVID-19 hospital dedicated for dialysis patients will help others.

Meanwhile, patients who are visiting other dedicated dialysis centres in the city, haven't been informed about the BMC's decision. Jeetu Shenoy, 56, who lives in Khar and has been undergoing dialysis at Hinduja Hospital thrice a week since last June, said that his hospital hasn't informed him, if he'll be shifted to any other centre.

Dr Sudhakar Shinde, CEO of Ayushman Bharat and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY), a flagship state government scheme, which is working at providing subsidised treatment to all COVID-19 patients, said that the decision to dedicate 80 per cent of the private hospital beds for patients, is a move in the right direction. All the private hospitals will now be charging patients at government rates. "We have already worked out the revised costs for private hospitals. For instance, if a five-star hospital would earlier charge anywhere around R50,000 per day for ICU, we have capped the same to R7,500 per day. For a ventilator, where they would charge R60,000, we have capped the rate at R9,000. Even the charges for the general ward at a private hospital has been capped at R4,000 per day," said Dr Shinde.

The CEO further said that MJPJAY, which used to provide cashless and free health insurance scheme benefits to 85 per cent of its population (yellow and orange ration card holders), will be extending it to the remaining white ration card holders. Maharshtra is the first state in the country to provide free and cashless health insurance to all its citizens.

Toll free number to find details about govt's free and cashless health insurance policy

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