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Covid-19: Ayushman Bharat roped in, private hospitals put on alert

Maitri Porecha New Delhi | Updated on March 18, 2020 Published on March 18, 2020

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has roped in the National Health Authority (NHA), which manages the largest government-run health insurance programme — Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) or Ayushman Bharat — to identify capacities to admit patients from among 19,840 empanelled hospitals under the scheme. The Ministry is also holding consultations with private sector and non-profit hospitals across the country to ramp up facilities.

“Not all our empanelled hospitals will have the isolation beds or respirator facilities to admit potential Covid-19 patients. So, we are in the process of shortlisting tertiary care units which are accredited to assist in the process,” a PMJAY official told BusinessLine.

India has recorded 168 confirmed cases till date of which 14 have been cured and three have died.

The NHA is also charting out the rates to include Covid-19 packages in PMJAY. “Currently, we do not have a package for Covid-19. We are charting out expenses for isolating patients and giving them ICU care. Also, a database for how many ventilators and beds are available country-wide is being extracted,” said the official. The Ministry has also roped in the NITI Aayog and the Indian Council of Medical Research to study hospital level preparedness in case India shifts to Stage 3 of community transmission where the virus could spread unfettered. It is expected to come out with a list of isolation facilities soon, sources said. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan chaired a high level review meeting on Wednesay with chiefs of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, RML and Safdarjung Hospital for examining infrastructure preparedness.

Naresh Trehan, founder of Gurugram-based Medanta Medcity said that doctors from the private sector were being engaged. The Confederation of Indian Industries has suggested that under-utilised or unoccupied public and private hospitals should to used for Covid-19 quarantine.

“This should be done on the lines of Maharashtra’s decision to commission private-run Seven Hills Hospital in Andheri as a Covid-19 quarantine facility. Seven Hills Hospital was nearly empty and the State took this decision to prevent cross-infection between suspected Covid-19 and other patients,” Trehan said.

Trehan said that currently Covid-19 patients and suspects are only being admitted to government hospitals and the 14 Italians were accomodated in Medanta on a special request by te Health Ministry. Medanta has treated them pro-bono.

Trehan also said that per day costs for treating a patient of Covid-19, including isolation and ICU goes up to ₹50,000 in the private sector.

“We are not expecting the government to pay for these patients. We are in midst of a war with the virus... right now, we are referring all suspect Covid-19 patients to government facilities unless guidelines are charted by the Ministry,” he said.

With 39 cases recorded in Maharashtra, it is leading the count of infected patients in the outbreak.

SP Kalantri, Director, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in Wardha, Maharashtra, said that the district administration had instructed the medical college to prepare a five-bed isolation ward for suspects and a two-bed ICU facility for more severe cases. “Preparedness would involve having oxygen support, dialysis machines in case of kidney failure, antibiotics in case of complications related to bacterial sepsis and dedicated health staff to only look after Covid-19 cases,” said Kalantri.

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Published on March 18, 2020
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