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Nagaland: Plight of private hospital patients

By Our Correspondent Updated: Sep 18, 2020 9:31 pm
A nurse examining a patient at a private hospital in Kohima on Friday. (EM Images)

Our Correspondent
Kohima, Sep. 18 (EMN):
The conversion of government hospitals into designated Covid-19 hospitals by the state government in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic outbreak has had an adverse effect on many people, especially those from the economically weaker families.

Many non-Covid patients from near and far-flung places have been left with no option but to seek treatment for various ailments at private hospitals in the state capital.

With the announcement by the Nagaland government to convert Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) into a dedicated Covid-19 hospital in March, all patients including those from intensive care unit (ICU) had to vacate the hospital.

Eastern Mirror visited a few hospitals to interact with some of the patients and their family members, who shared about the ‘exorbitant’ amount of money they’ve been paying for healthcare services and medical bills in some of the leading private hospitals in Kohima.

A family had to spend around INR 35,000 for a week’s stay at a private hospital in Kohima. Their elderly mother, who came to Kohima from a village in Tseminyu area, had been admitted to the hospital as she was suffering from jaundice with some symptoms of tuberculosis (TB).

Speaking to this newspaper at the hospital, one of her sons said that the hospital and medical bills are ‘very costly’ at private hospitals though healthcare services are available.

An attendant of an aged patient at another private hospital in PR Hill also informed that they had already spent INR 30,000 as hospital bills in a span of five days. The patient had been hospitalised after suffering a mild stroke.

‘The facilities in government hospitals are somewhat cheaper but such healthcare institutions are not available at present while poor people find it difficult to spend so much in private hospitals,’ said the patient’s nephew.

A dialysis patient shared that his first-day charge from the same hospital came to around INR 8,000. He had returned to Kohima after spending about INR 40,000 at aprivate hospital in Dimapur ‘for a few days’.

A daily-wage earner at another private hospital said that his cousin has been in the hospital for two days after a fall through the ceiling while working in a building.

Had it not been for the owner of the building, who is bearing the expenses for treating his injured cousin, ‘we would not be able to take him to any of the private hospitals in Kohima,’ he shared.

Another woman also shared how she spent about INR 8,000 at a private hospital in Naga Bazaar for her sister who went to the facility to remove her placenta. The procedure lasted for ‘few minutes’, after the child was delivered at home. ‘I had withdrawn all my money (sic) from the ATM for her treatment,’ said the patient’s sister.

An elderly mother from Ziezou village also shared how she spent INR 6,000 for her medical check up at the same hospital following a stomach ache ‘after waiting for the doctor for five hours’.

While undergoing treatment at the hospital, she also complained of a headache, for which she had to spend INR 4,300 for prescription glasses at the facility.

The patient also said that a doctor had asked her to buy medicines from pharmacy for three-month duration. However, owing to financial problems, she informed that she bought her medicines only for a one-month course.

This newspaper also visited a nursing home where a man said he had spent more than INR 30,000 for his wife, for a night’s stay.

“We came to the private hospital because the government facilities are not available,” said the man, who came to Kohima along with his pregnant wife from Pfütsero in Phek district.

A 20-year-old mother informed that about INR 70,000 was spent for her child’s delivery at another private hospital, as they had ‘no option to go to other hospitals’.

A few days ago, a mother had narrated to Eastern Mirror how her 11-year-old child, who was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, was brought to Kohima for treatment last year.

She said they had to spend about INR 7 lakh at a private hospital from April last year to the month of July this year. About INR 2 lakh was spent at the facility after the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown till the month of July.

She said that hospitals like NHAK were not taking in non-Covid patients although they wanted to shift their son to some government hospitals.

She added that her husband, who is a daily wage earner, left for Tripura in March in search of work but got stuck there for two months and ‘came back home empty-handed’.

“We are not salaried people. We came only for the child’s treatment in Kohima,” the wife said.

By Our Correspondent Updated: Sep 18, 2020 9:31:01 pm