3 Doctors held for taking Rs 1 lakh for providing ventilator bed to COVID patient in Pune
Pune: Three doctors have been arrested for allegedly demanding Rs 1 lakh from a COVID patient for providing a ventilator bed at the Auto Cluster Hospital, run by Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation.
While the healthcare system of the country is struggling to deal with the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, allegations have been made that the doctors charged Rs 1 lakh for the bed and shared the amount among themselves, according to the complaint lodged by municipal corporation officials
Following the allegations against the contractor of the hospital during the PCMC general body meeting on April 30, an FIR was filed against the three doctors associated with the extortion and cheating by PCMC on Saturday. Police arrested the three doctors involved in this connection.
One of the three doctors is associated with Sparsh Healthcare Pvt Ltd which is managing the Auto Cluster facility, and the other two works at Padmaja Hospital, Walhekarwadi. The doctor of the Auto Cluster facility paid Rs 20,000 to the other doctors as "cut practice" for referring the patient.
Pimpri police have registered a case under Sections 384 (extortion) and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and other applicable laws against them. The CEO of Sparsh, however, has denied the involvement of any of its employees with the incident.
As per the latest media report by Punekar News, although the patient got admitted to the hospital after paying Rs 1 lakh on an emergency basis on April 23, she succumbed to the infection on April 28. Following this, the relatives of the deceased informed BJP Corporators Kundan Gaikwad and Vikas Dolas, who took up the matter with the PCMC administration during the general body meeting.
After hearing them out, Mayor Usha Dhore gave direction to the civic administration to take action against the three doctors.
Indian Express has reported that Additional municipal commissioner Ulhas Jagtap submitted the complaint to the Pimpri police station. The complaint submitted by the PCMC administration stated, "The PCMC has set up a hospital for Covid patients at Auto Cluster. The treatment here is provided free of cost. The PCMC has appointed a contractor, Fortune Sparsh Healthcare Pvt, to run the hospital."
"At the PCMC general body meeting, held on April 30, corporators made serious allegations against the contractor running the healthcare facility. They alleged that one doctor from Auto Cluster hospital and two private hospital doctors took Rs 1 lakh from a patient for a ventilator bed at the Auto Cluster hospital… We request you to kindly take action in the matter…" it further added.
Speaking to Indian Express, Jagtap said, "Since the patient's oxygen saturation levels had dropped, the doctors suggested them to contact various hospitals for a ventilator bed. The doctors then told them that a ventilator bed was available, but the family will have to pay Rs 1 lakh. The family allegedly paid the amount."
Commenting on the issue, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone-1 of Pimpri Chinchwad police, Manchak Ippar told Hindustan Times, "A teacher from Chikhali was asked for money. She was admitted on April 23 and she died on April 28 while under treatment. All three doctors have been arrested."
Meanwhile, denying all the allegations with anyone associated with the facility, Dr Amol Holkunde, CEO of Sparsh told Indian Express, "Actually, it is the modus operandi of private hospitals to make false calls to the Auto Cluster facility and then lie that a bed is available on the payment of Rs 1 lakh. These private doctors then send patients to the Auto Cluster facility. If the family does not get the bed, they return the amount. If the family gets the bed, they retain the amount. On our part, we admit the patients after they are referred to us by YCM hospital, jumbo hospital, or through civic helpline numbers. This facility is free of cost… The PCMC pays us the contracted amount, why would anyone collect anything from the patient?"
Making demands for a thorough probe into the whole matter, Corporators Kundan Gaikwad and Vikas Dolas, who first complained to the PCMC about the incident, told the daily, "We have already urged the municipal commissioner for a deeper probe and ensure that no money is taken from the patients."
Indian Express, in the latest media report, has added that following the incident, PCMC administration has decided to streamline admissions to the Auto Cluster Hospital under the supervision of the civic body itself.
"As an emergency, we had given Sparsh Multispeciality the contract to run the Covid hospital at Auto Cluster in Chinchwad. However, there are complaints from corporators and citizens regarding the admission process at the Auto Cluster facility. The civic general body meeting had also debated this issue. In view of this, patients from different parts of the city should not be directly admitted to the Auto Cluster facility. They should come to the triage of YCM hospital where a team of doctors will decide about admission to the Auto Cluster hospital," the PCMC chief, Rajesh Patil mentioned in his directive.