State's regulations to control treatment cost at private hospitals has put Mumbai's nursing homes in a fix

Updated: May 24, 2020, 07:58 IST | Prajakta Kasale | Mumbai

Mumbai's nursing homes wonder how state plans to utilise them as Corona-warriors with missing infrastructure and at reduced costs

Doctors have argued that with extra costs, working at reduced charges will be difficult
Doctors have argued that with extra costs, working at reduced charges will be difficult

The state government's Friday order, asking all private medical facilities, run by charitable trusts to cap the price for 80 per cent of their beds for Coronavirus infected patients, has left the city's nursing homes in a fix.

With most of the city's 1,200 nursing homes in residential areas and with less than 20 beds, doctors running them are unclear how the state government plans to regulate the treatment here in accordance with social distancing and isolation norms.

"Controlling and capping charges of 80 per cent beds is expensive. If the government wants, it can put a cap on 50 per cent beds," says Nilima Vaidya-Bhamare, secretary of the Association of Medical Consultant (AMC), adding, "Maintenance cost of the staff is high. One needs to account for residence, food, medical expenses and investigations of staff, which is borne by us. If a staffer shows symptoms, we have to pay for the RT PCR test. Even the quarantine facility is an additional expense. Then there are medicines, oxygen supply, other basic investigations along with doctors visit charge. This will hamper quality treatment for patients."

While the state order does not mention that it will take over 80 per cent beds, doctors feel this is only a matter of time.

"We want to help people. But there isn't any comprehensive plan from the government on how they plan to take over our hospitals. If they do, we can start working towards it," says officer bearer of the Bombay Nursing Home Association.

"After the amendments in the nursing home act, the BMC wasn't ready to give us permission [to operate] as we don't have a separate entrance [within residential premises]. How do they expect us to modify this right now? How will positive and suspected COVID-19 patients get entry into housing societies?" asks a senior doctor, also owner of a nursing home in South Mumbai. Another wanted to know what maths the government plans to apply when some places have as low as seven or eight beds. More importantly, how will such a nursing home isolate one bed specifically? Another doctor pointed out that many nurses have gone back to their hometowns.

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