Despite the fact that no agreement has yet been reached between five private hospitals in Karachi and the Sindh health department for the care of COVID-19 patients ‘critically ill but in need’ at the expense of the provincial government, the Sindh health department on Friday was formed and notified ‘referral committee’ and nominating focus people to refer COVID-19 patients to private hospitals for treatment, The News learned on Friday.
To handle the limited space for patients infected with coronavirus in government hospitals, the Sindh government has held talks with the management of five private hospitals – Liaquat National Hospital, Dr. Ziauddin Hospital, Southern City Hospital, Patel Hospital, and Altamash General Hospital – to refer to those COVID-19 patients, so government facilities have no space.
According to health authorities, the five private hospitals have established separate COVID-19 wards with high dependency units (HDU), intensive care units (ICU) and ventilators and all of these health facilities have their own laboratories for testing and diagnosis of COVID -19.
The five private hospitals, according to the government’s proposal, will treat COVID-19 patients referred by the Sindh government at the last cost. However, so far no agreement has been reached on this matter, but the health department has notified the committee to refer COVID-19 patients to this private facility.
“No agreement or memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between five leading private hospitals and the Sindh health department to treat COVID-19 patients at government expense. “An MoU draft has been prepared for the agreement but we have some reservations about it, because so far there has been no progress in this regard,” said Dr Asim Hussain, chairman of Dr Ziauddin’s Hospital, when speaking with The News.
At present, only seven health facilities offer free treatment to COVID-19 patients, but all beds in their COVID-19 care ward meet capacity. The seven facilities include Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, Karachi General Hospital Dr. Ruth KM Pfau, Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), Dow Ojha University of Health Sciences (DUHS), Karachi Indus Hospital, Lyari General Hospital and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Trauma Center.
Since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Sindh on February 26, 2020, the provincial health department has been trying to persuade private health facilities to treat COVID-19 patients in need but private hospitals do not seem to want to share the burden on the provincial government without agreements and payment of expenses in advance, arguing that it is very difficult to get bills cleared from the health department.
Expressing his ignorance of the notification about the appointment of a focus person or the constitutional referral committee by the Sindh health department, Dr. Asim said private hospitals were not satisfied with some of the conditions or clauses of the draft MoU and unless disputes were resolved. , no agreement can be reached between the provincial government and private hospitals.
“The government wants us to improve beds for their patients in high dependency units and intensive care units while we have told them that beds will only be available for their patients on condition of availability. Second, we have told them that only standard care will be offered on packages offered by the government. The cost of new and expensive antivirals and other modern medicines will not be included in this package, “Dr. Asim argues.
Under the draft MoU, private hospitals will charge the government Rs65,000 for patient care in HDU and Rs110,000 in ICU per day for the care of critically ill patients who cannot afford their own treatment.
The administration of two other private hospitals, the South City Hospital and the Liaquat National Hospital, also denied reaching an agreement with the Sindh government.
“No agreement was reached between us and the Sindh health department regarding the care of COVID-19 patients at government expense but we will not reject patients if they are referred to us by the authorities. But at this time, we are ready for capacity and do not take more COVID-19 patients, “said Chief Executive of the Southern City Hospital, Dr. Sadia Rizvi, told The News.
“I don’t know why an agreement has not been reached between a private hospital and the government because Dr Asim Hussain represents a private hospital. But we don’t reject any patients. At present, our COVID-19 ward is already crowded. We have a 27-bed COVID ward but we are adding 14 more beds to increase its capacity to 41 from Monday onwards, “Dr. Rizvi.
The Liaquat National Hospital Administration (LNH) also denied reaching an agreement with the provincial government regarding the care of COVID-19 patients, saying that they accepted all COVID-19 patients because they had increased COVID-19 care room facilities to 50. beds from 34 places sleep at first.
“We have not reached an agreement with the Sindh health department or the government for the care of patients in need at government expense but we treat patients as usual. If the government sends someone to be treated, even without any consent, we will treat the patient. We are also open to all other patients who are not infected with coronavirus and have other health problems and problems, “said Managing Director of the Liaquat National Hospital, Dr. Salman Faridi.
Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said they were “close to reaching an agreement” with private hospitals, adding that the MoU would likely be signed on Saturday or Monday with five hospitals for the care of COVID-19 patients in need at Sindh government costs.
“The health department has formed a committee consisting of the chief technical advisor, the health secretary along with Sindh Health Commission officials and others to inspect and monitor facilities in the ‘Private Hospital Core Group’ where patients will be referred for treatment before signing an MoU with them,” Dr Azra said in response to questions about confusion over the government’s agreement with private hospitals.
Regarding the notice for the appointment of an important person and the constitutional referral committee, he said it was a draft notice, which had not been signed by the Sindh health secretary. He added that once the MoU was signed between the two parties, both key people and the referral committee would be formally notified.