A private hospital located in Talegaon area of Maval taluka of Pune district refused to release the body of a Covid-19 positive patient for nearly three days over non-payment of bills. It was only after Maval MP Shrirang Barne took up the issue with the Chief Minister’s Office and the district administration that the hospital waived the bill and handed over the body to the family. The Zilla Parishad has ordered a probe into the matter.
The incident came to light on Monday when MP Barne was visiting Talegaon. “The son of the deceased approached me when I was in Talegaon on Monday. He complained to me that the Talegaon hospital was refusing to hand over his father’s body to them as they could not pay the bill,” Barne told The Indian Express Tuesday.
Barne then went to the hospital along with the local police officials and questioned the hospital administration.
The hospital – Dr Bhausaheb Sardesai hospital – is run by MIMER (Maharashtra Institute of Medical Education and Research), Talegaon. It has 100 beds. The patient, a vegetable vendor, was admitted to the hospital with dipping oxygen saturation level on April 23. As his condition worsened, he was shifted to ICU where he passed away five days later.
Sujit Loke, the son of the deceased, said on Tuesday, “The hospital first gave me a bill of around Rs 70,000. I contacted various relatives but could not get any help. The hospital asked me to find out whether the bill comes under any government scheme. I tried to find out but could not get any information. The hospital refused to hand over the body… The next day the hospital staff made me run from one window to another… I desperately pleaded for them to release the body but they wouldn’t,” Loke said.
Loke said on the third day the same thing happened until the afternoon when he got to know the MP was in Talegaon. “I then approached the MP who along with the police landed up in the hospital and questioned the hospital administration,” he said.
Barne said, “When I learnt about it, I was shocked as to find out how the hospital had behaved in an insensitive manner towards the Covid-19 victim and his family. This was highly objectionable. In the past too I have received complaints of bad behaviour by hospitals with patients and their families.”
Barne said he then contacted the Chief Minister’s Office and the district administration. “I spoke to the Zilla Parishad CEO as well,” he said.
When contacted, ZP CEO Ayush Prasad said, “After the MP complained to us, we immediately took up the matter with the hospital administration which has waived the full bill. We have launched an investigation to find out the full facts,” he said.
The ZP chief said he had asked the hospital to find out whether the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Arogya Yojana can be applicable to the family. “Otherwise we can waive the bill as it is a charitable hospital…”
Prasad said the hospital is the only one in Talegaon which can treat serious patients. “We had received a few complaints against the hospital in the past year and have taken them up with the hospital administration which has resolved the issues,” he said.
In a statement, the hospital administration said, “The allegation that we did not release the body for non payment of bill is not true. We try to cover patients under the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Arogya Yojana as much as possible. Otherwise we give the patients maximum discount. In view of the request from the MP and showing respect to him, we have waived the full bill…”