The Karnataka government is now planning to rope in private hospitals to provide treatment for patients with COVID-19. The Department of Health and Family Welfare in Karnataka has already held four rounds of talks with the Karnataka Private Medical Practitionersâ€™ Association to decide on capping the cost for treating COVID-19 patients in these private hospitals.
The COVID-19 Task Force, headed by Deputy Chief Minister Dr CN Ashwath Narayan, Health Minister B Sriramulu, Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar and Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai have decided that private hospitals have to be roped in in order to avoid a situation, where there could be shortage of beds, sources with Chief Ministerâ€™s Office told TNM.
Currently, the state government has suggested to cap the cost per day for treating each patient with COVID-19 at Rs 5,200. This will only include cost of hospitalisation and the state government has not given a break up of total cost per day including medicines. However, Health Department officials said that the representatives of the private medical establishments want four times more the cost the government has currently suggested.
â€śThe Ministers in the COVID-19 task force want to go the Maharashtra way, implement the Disaster Management Act and take over the private hospitals and convert them into COVID-19 health care centres. However, this is not going to be beneficial, especially for the private hospitals and the staff working there,â€ť a member of the expert committee for COVID-19 said.
Health Department sources said that the Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Jawaid Akthar has been holding talks with representatives of private hospitals in a bid to arrive at a mutually beneficial price cap. â€śThe ACS is trying very hard to arrive at a reasonable rate. But the ministers donâ€™t even want to do that. They want to take over the private hospitals. We have all seen how disastrous this can be. Also, the ACS has taken into account the suggestions of the expert committee to study bed availability. We had suggested that only 50% of the beds in each hospital, both public and private be allocated for COVID-19. There is no point in converting entire hospitals. Where will other patients go?â€ť an expert committee member said.
Meanwhile, sources with the CMO said that Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has directed Deputy Commissioners of all the districts to begin works to ramp up the primary health centres and the taluk-level hospitals as a back-up measure, in order to ensure that even those who do not have COVID-19 can avail tertiary-level care at government hospitals. This decision, sources said, was also taken as most of the tertiary-level district hospitals are now COVID-19 health care centres.
â€śIn many parts of north Karnataka, works have already begun to ramp up infrastructure in PHCs and taluk hospitals. This work should be completed in the next two months. In the meantime, the decision to use 50% beds in certain private hospitals for COVID-19 patients will be taken once talks are finalised and the cabinet approval is granted,â€ť a senior health department official said.