Hyderabad: Hundreds of Covid-19 patients are being “exploited” in the state-run Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) Hospital in Gachibowli.
Families and attenders narrate their horror stories of the dealings with the lower-level management, who are allegedly running the institution as a syndicate.
The TIMS is charging a fee ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 via digital payment for facility to attend to the patients, cleaning the room and even passing on to patients the home-cooked food.
Sharing the plight, a man whose wife aged 50 is undergoing treatment at the hospital since Wednesday said, “Once you enter the place, the stench of overflowing gutter is too nauseating to bear with. From there on, you need to start paying the security guard and the staffers to get things done.”
“They fixed the gutter issue after four days of complaining,” he said.
“The canteen food is so bad that families are opting to get food and other edibles from home. Once delivered at the entrance counter, these take as long as two hours to reach the patient. The receptionist touts the excuse, “We are understaffed, you have to wait.”
“Oftentimes, the food we send never reaches the patient. When questioned about it, they dismiss it with a shrug. People here have also lost their mobile phones,” he said.
A Deccan Chronicle correspondent found the ambulance service from TIMS, supposedly free, having charged Rs 15,000 to take a patient from Narepally to Gachibowli. The driver also demanded an extra Rs 4,000 for the 2-hour waiting at the hospital till the management found a bed. “Admission was put on-hold till a payment was made to the staff, resulting in the death of the patient,” his family alleged later.
“I was told by the driver that though the government claims it’s free, they are risking their lives with Covid patients and needed be paid. My brother-in-law was virtually murdered by these people here. If he had been admitted upon arrival, his life could have been saved. He battled for life and breathed his last after waiting for two hours in the ambulance outside the hospital,” shared the grieving attender.
Families say the housekeeping staff and nurses demand money for injections, medicines and other basic duties, citing lack of manpower.
“Since the patient does not carry a mobile phone, they hand over theirs and ask them to call the family and make a payment. Not a muscle is moved until the demanded amount is credited. They ask anything between `500 to `2,000 to allow a visit to the patient. The worst part is that nurses work in three shifts and each one demands a payment. The receptionist charges `2,000 to just check the pulse rate of the patient,” shared an attender.
Speaking about how the management is not shifting his locked-up wife into the ward from a room she was made to share with a mentally challenged patient, a 55-year-old said he has been requesting this for days but in vain.
“One room is shared by two patients and my wife is sharing hers with a mentally challenged. The patient refuses her tablets and food and harasses my wife, keeps running out of the ward and does not flush after using the toilet. The action taken by the management is to simply keep the room locked so that the woman will not run out. We are asked to pay money to the staff to clean the washroom,” he said.
Meanwhile, others shared experiences of how they have never seen anyone disinfect the place. Bodies of the dead remain unattended on the bedside, beside the beds of other patients. “I have only seen four freezers in the place. If a patient passes away post 4 pm, the paperwork and other documentation takes 2-3 hours and the bodies end up waiting in the ICUs and general wards until that is done. Even so, I wonder how they accommodate them in just four freezers,” shared another attender.