Patients forced to approach empanelled ESI superspecialty hospitals

ESI Hospital, a key government medical care facility in the Eloor-Udyogmandal industrial belt, has no medical intensive care unit (MICU). It has also no facility to handle emergency cases.

The absence of ICU and emergency services resulted in a pregnant woman with burns not receiving timely medical attention, as she could not be admitted to the hospital nor to any of the empanelled facilities of ESI. In fact, the delay in providing medical care claimed her life.

With increasing cases of emergencies like cardiac and stroke events being reported, patients approaching ESI hospitals need to have luck on their side to find an ICU bed at a superspecialty hospital on the ESI panel. Also, precious time is lost in transporting patients to another hospital.

Set in over 13 acres, the 100-bed hospital, which caters for around 1.5 lakh ESIC-insured persons, has 13 feeder dispensaries. It has over 10 departments where outpatient services are available.

Though the facilities have definitely improved, with a good casualty department, more doctors and medicines, the lack of MICU is an issue of serious concern, said K.N. Gopinath, member of the hospital advisory board.

According to him, since the hospital caters for people from the industrial belt, the availability of an occupational health centre is crucial in handling health hazards faced by people working in hazardous environments. The matter has been raised several times in the advisory committee, he added.

Meanwhile, ESIC board member V. Radhakrishnan told The Hindu that a proposal for developing the hospital into a 200-bed superspecialty centre was taken up with then Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya during the latter’s visit to the hospital a few months ago. He had then opened a neonatal ICU at the hospital. A separate block for occupational hazard had also been proposed.

Operational expense

ESIC has incurred an operational expense of Rs 460 crore in Kerala in the last financial year, while the revenue generated was Rs 450 crore.

ESIC has paid nearly Rs 30 crore for the services offered by the empanelled hospitals. It is likely to go up to Rs 40 crore this year, said  Radhakrishnan.

While the Minister had then approved the expansion proposal, there has been little progress in it,  Gopinath said.

He added that the Minister had also promised to look into the issue of the two-year moratorium on people who took ESIC membership to claim medical reimbursement. Such issues continue to affect patient care at the Udyogamandal facility. – The Hindu 



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