Despite strict instructions from the provincial government, private hospitals in province-2 unwilling to provide servicesNepal Chikitsak Sangh on Wednesday issued a statement in retaliation to Chief Minister Lal Babu Raut’s call to cancel the registration of private hospitals refusing treatment to patients.
Seven days ago, Sanobabu Sunar, a local of Gauridanda in Mahottari, went to Subhaswastik Hospital in Bardibas after suffering from fever. When he reached the hospital, a security guard deployed at the hospital’s entrance asked Sunar about his health complications before calling a doctor out on the hospital premises.
The doctor stood by the door and enquired about Sunar’s health condition; verbally prescribed some medicines and sent him away. “The guard did not allow me to enter the hospital. The doctor asked me to take paracetamols and sent me away without examination,” said Sunar, “I could have very well gone to a pharmacy instead of going to the doctor.”
Refuting Sunar’s claims, Dipak Karki, the owner of the hospital says that the hospital has been providing treatment to around 50 to 60 patients on a daily basis. “But the hospital has been admitting patients and performing medical tests only in necessary cases,” said Karki.
On Friday, Bijaya Kushwaha, 25, of Kalaiya Sub Metropolis sustained a leg injury while operating a thresher machine. He went to the local pharmacy and got 35 stitches to close his wound. He was taken to the National Medical College, Birgunj after his health condition worsened on Saturday. While in the hospital, Kushwaha developed dry cough and fever on Sunday, but the doctors refused to continue his treatment and referred him to other hospitals. But the hospitals in Birgunj—Narayani, Bayodha and Gandak—also refused to admit him. Since Kushwaha’s family had no other option, they decided to take him to Kathmandu. On Sunday evening, TU Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu pronounced him dead on arrival at the hospital.
A majority of cases began surfacing of private hospitals and medical clinics in province-2 refusing to treat patients; especially of those complaining of fever. Following several complaints, Lalbabu Raut, Chief Minister of Province-2, on Tuesday directed all Chief District Officers in eight districts to cancel the registration of such private hospitals. But on Wednesday Nepal Chikitsak Sangh issued a statement in retaliation demanding for the decision to cancel the registration of such hospitals to be repealed.
National Medical College, a private hospital in Birgunj, has set-up a 50-bed isolation ward to treat Covid-19 infected patients. But, the hospital has been declining medical treatment of patients due to a lack of Personal Protective Equipment. Dr Madan Upadhayay, medical superintendent of the Narayani Hospital, a government hospital in Birgunj, said private hospitals have been referring patients (suffering from minor fever and cough) to other hospitals fearing novel coronavirus cases. He said, “They are waiting for the government to send medical kits rather than focussing on treating patients.”
Voicing their concerns about contracting and spreading novel coronavirus, private hospital owners say they are unwilling to take patients showing Covid-19 like symptoms. “The first symptom of Covid-19 is fever and dry cough,” said the operator of one of the private hospitals in Birgunj, who asked to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.
In Rautahat, the District Administration Office has warned private hospitals of action if they fail to take in patients complaining of fever and cough. The administration has received a number of complaints of patients being turned away from private hospitals, says Basudev Ghimire, Chief District Officer of Rautahat. “In the last few days, the administration has been informed about cases wherein private hospitals have referred patients to government hospitals,” he said. “We will take strict action against any hospitals turning patients away.”
There are 21 private hospitals in Rautahat district.
In Sarlahi, most of the private health facilities have been closed in the wake of the global pandemic. Some of the private hospitals which were operating before the spread of coronavirus are now padlocked. Man Bahadur Khadka, mayor of Lalbandi Municipality, said he submitted a memorandum to Mohan Bahadur GC, Chief District Officer of Sarlahi, to take action against such private hospitals. On Thursday, GC also called operators of private hospitals in his office and requested them to open their hospitals in these trying times.
(Bhusan Yadav in Birgunj, Shiva Puri in Rautahat, Om Prakash Thakur in Sarlahi and Sunita Baral in Mahottari contributed reporting.)