BMC Reserves 80% Private Hospital Beds for COVID-19 in Mumbai

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will be taking over 80% of the private hospital beds in Mumbai for catering to COVID-19 cases and other emergencies, according to a Mumbai Mirror report.

Beds meant for maternity, dialysis and chemotherapy will be exempted from the list.

An order issued by the state public health department stated that while the hospitals would continue to manage their other day-to-day operations, patients can only be admitted to the reserved beds upon the BMC’s directions. The charges for an ICU bed in these facilities have also been capped at Rs 9,000 per day, while the hospitals can charge the remaining 20% based on their regular rates.

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The Mirror report quotes a civic official who said that the admission to nearly 22,000 of the 30,000 total beds in these facilities, which, for now, fall under BMC, will be regulated through an app and/or the central control room. In case of an emergency, a patient or a family member could use either of these options to get a token number which can be shared with the hospital.

The BMC will be paying for COVID-19 treatment at these hospitals, but the facilities cannot charge more than Rs 9,000 per day for an ICU with a ventilator and isolation facility, Rs 7,500 for an ICU bed without a ventilator and Rs 4,000 for a general ward with an isolation facility.

These charges are not inclusive of PPEs, interventional procedures, COVID-19 testing and certain expensive drugs, but these can also not be priced at more than 10 percent above the market price. The patients will also have to pay for expensive tests like the MRI, CT scan and other lab tests.

The civic official also has been quoted as saying that this intervention by the BMC was needed because of complaints of overcharging by private hospitals. Moreover, reports of overwhelmed hospital facilities in the city showed that the health infrastructure may not be able to manage the daily increase in cases. The state-appointed COVID-19 task force had reportedly cautioned that if 80% beds are not reserved for at least six weeks, the city would struggle to accommodate its patients.

(With inputs from The Mumbai Mirror)

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