Amid several complaints against private nursing homes against inflated bills for Covid19 treatment, the state health department has launched a campaign to urge people to opt for medical treatment in government hospitals. According to officials associated with the health department, government facilities had adequate infrastructure and that doctors had been providing good services to the people while treating Covid-19.

Darjeeling district chief medical officer of health Dr Pralay Acharya said the campaign, through the public address system and distribution of leaflets, had been launched to encourage people to get Covid-19 treatment in government facilities.

“Government hospitals have been doing a commendable job during the pandemic. Necessary infrastructure has been created in preparation for any eventuality. We want patients suffering from Covid-19 to get treatment at government hospitals. The infrastructure at the facilities has been upgraded and a number of beds are being augmented. Best efforts are made to cure the patients with better health services. The recovery rate of the patients in government hospitals has also remained high. We have launched an awareness campaign in this regard,” Dr Acharya said.

Around 300 patients on a daily average have recovered in government hospitals and in home isolation in the district so far, health department sources said, adding that the number of deaths had also been high at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH), the principal health institute for north Bengal.

Dr Acharya said the beds strength for Covid patients had been increased up to around 350 at the NBMCH, 40 at the Siliguri District Hospital, 50 at the Darjeeling District Hospital and 18 at the Kurseong District Hospital.

“The process is ongoing. Apart from this, around 150 beds have been increased in the block primary health centres and primary health centres in rural areas,” he said. The campaign also aims at creating awareness about undergoing free Covid tests at government-run centres if people develop symptoms. As part of the campaign, the department is spreading among the public the names of the testing facilities in the district, along with messages about following Covid-19 protocols.

The complicated issue of overbilling by some nursing homes has been a prime topic in Siliguri of late. Many of the patients have claimed they were charged “disproportionately.”

They had to part with their lifelong savings, in some cases, sources in the know have said. However, despite the ‘exorbitant’ charges, many Covid19 patients are flocking to private hospitals for “better” treatment facilities and personal attention because there is a common allegation about medical negligence at government hospitals.

Highlighting the poor management, many people have said that doctors are not approachable at government hospitals due to their excessive workload. Public representatives, senior politicians, bureaucrats, many associated with the government healthcare system, all prefer private hospitals to government ones, the sources say. “This trend sometimes loses the trust of the common people despite the fact that there are some good government hospitals,” said a doctor at the NBMCH.

One more black fungus case detected

One more mucormycosis case was detected after test reports of a 65-year-old came in positive at the NBMCH, sources said. The person has been admitted in the ENT ward of the hospital.

201 new Covid cases in Darjeeling district

Siliguri Municipal Corporation areas, including those under Jalpaiguri district, recorded 96 new Covid-19 cases today, while Darjeeling district counted 201 cases, sources said. Matigara  reported 38 cases, Naxalbari 37, Phansidewa 10, Bijanbari 11,  eight each in Sukna and Sukhia Pokhari, Takdah seven, Darjeeling Municipality six, Mirik five and Kurseong Municipality two cases.

Also today, 420 people recovered in government facilities or in home isolation in the past 24 hours, the sources said.

Covid patients die

Around  seven persons, who had tested positive for Covid-19, died at the NBMCH in the past 24 hours, sources said.