“They are charging Rs 1.15 lakh per day, I can’t pay so much. We want discharge but they aren’t discharging, they aren’t behaving properly,” says Dr Sultana sobbing in a video.
A civil surgeon at Hyderabad’s Fever Hospital, Dr Sultana, who tested positive for coronavirus, says she faced a harrowing experience at a private hospital. Though she was under treatment at home, when she experienced shortness of breath she was admitted to Thumbay, a private hospital.
She alleges that the private hospital had ‘detained’ her for non-payment of complete bill. The doctor further mentioned in the video that her daughter, brother and sister have all contracted the disease and that she was not getting proper medication at Thumbay.
“They gave me insulin but didn’t provide any food. I’m in trouble, please help me. I’m a COVID warrior,” says Dr Sultana in the video that has gone viral in Telangana. There is also a letter addressed to the Chaderghat police station that is circulating along with the video.
Dr. Sultana, DMO Fever Hospital, Hyderabad who got affectd with #COVID19 & was admittd in #ThumbayHospital_Chaderghat. She was askd 2 pay ₹1.15 Lakhs 4 a day, She paid ₹40k. She was detaind 4 non payment of bill. This is happening with a #covidwarriors doctor. Kindly help her pic.twitter.com/5zSsMfRMNl— Sheikh Mohammad Sabeer (@Sheikh_Sabeer) July 5, 2020
Dr Sultana’s relatives tried to file a police complaint as well, but the police refused to take the complaint as it alleged lack of treatment and fee slabs. Chaderghat police instead asked the family to approach the state Health department for help.
In a letter dated July 4, Dr Sultana wrote that she tested positive for coronavirus 16 days ago. She was being treated at home since then, however when she experienced shortness of breath, she got admitted to a private hospital. After a day’s treatment, she says she was asked to pay an amount of Rs 1.15 lakh, of which the family could pay only Rs 40,000.
Speaking to TNM, Dr Sultana said that she recorded the video to highlight the ordeal she underwent at Thumbay. She alleged that she did not receive proper treatment and that the hospital staff were not approachable.
Dr Sultana said she was finally discharged only after the complete bill was paid. She was also billed for the night that she was detained at the hospital, so the total bill amount came up to Rs 1.46 lakh, she said.
Meanwhile, Fever Hospital officials said they came to know about the incident only after Dr Sultana’s video came out.
Commenting on the issue, Fever Hospital Superintendent Dr Shankar said, “We came to know about the incident only after this video was released. We approached her and said that she can avail free treatment either in Gandhi or in NIMS in case of any emergency.”
Dr Shankar further said that all of Dr Sultana’s family members had positive for coronavirus and were being self-treated through home quarantine. At Fever Hospital, she used to check general OP patients, he said.
Meanwhile, Thumbay Hospital in an official response to the media said that Dr Sultana had availed treatment for five days in a deluxe room and not one day as stated by her. They also alleged that Dr Sultana was ‘aggressive’ with the nurses and doctors in the hospital.
Despite the government cap on private hospitals for testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients in Telangana, hospitals continue to charge exorbitant amounts.
The state government has fixed the package of COVID-treatment for a day at Rs 4,000 for routine ward and isolation. In case of ICU with ventilator and isolation, the package can go up to Rs 9,000. However, these packages exclude other expenses such as PPE kits and other interventional procedures, for which the hospitals can charge an additional amount.