Dec 20Featured ArticleIssue

Healthcare Leader: Dr Naresh Shetty

President, M S Ramaiah Memorial Hospital


The lock down amidst COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the operations of private hospitals. With hardly 20 per cent occupancy and salaries to be paid, it has never been so bad. Even the government on certain occasions put forth terms where hospitals were told to admit patients in large numbers. Poor pricing and additional incentives to all healthcare workers added to the financial crunch. Less income increased material cost and additional manpower payments meant most of the hospitals’ health was at peril.

History always repeats itself only because mankind hardly learns from his blunder.!!!

Uncertainty regarding the spread of corona virus is a new challenge and learning for all. The SOP needs to be changed every other day depending upon the evidence. Healthcare workers dealing with COVID patients are highly stressed and need constant counselling, which is not only physically taxing but a huge mental health burden. Shortage of PPEs, high cost of masks and PPEs, shortage of essential drugs and sourcing them remained a major challenge. In worst-case scenario unused PPEs were disposed of without being used. Hospitals were overburdened as there was a sudden surge of patients. All these led to huge expectations. Need for an unlimited supply of oxygen, informing the relatives of the deceased, disposing of bodies and an unrelenting media pressure made the task difficult.

Even as the government fixed uneconomical prices for COVID treatment, there are opportunities for treating  patients post-covid. The other positive area was virtual consultation where the hospital expenses were reduced substantially. Healthcare leaders assured productivity and cooperation from the hospital staff via constant motivation, counselling, ensuring extra payment for COVID duties, quarantine quarters after COVID
duties etc. However, the overall scenario led to no increments and no new job opportunities.

Everyone needs to look beyond paying capacity. On many occasions, there were more confidence among the  health workers managing the COVID patients as the work was conducted in a dedicated manner. Above all this is not a time to look for profits but this is a time to take care of the nation’s needs.

Hospitals need to be very stingy in their approach and have to tighten the belts further. Hospitals may not invest in newer gadgets for the  time being and have to make the workforce lean and mean. The productive group needs to be incentivised and the nonproductive might have to be gradually phased out. As healthcare sees itself on a ventilator, it will mean some key strategy implementation to reduce cost and improve output. Survival of the fittest will ensure many of the hospitals closing down because of the unhealthy financial conditions.

We hope that there is no repeat of 2020 as it was a year of bad dreams. Looking at the surge in COVID positive cases all around, we still have a long battle to fight. Only the vaccine and the SMS (sanitise, masks, safe distance) can save us from this pandemic.

The government should come up with measures like rebates in essential areas like electricity tariff and other taxes, reducing GST for all essential items, reducing import duties on life-saving items and ensuring income tax reduction to healthcare workers. This is a better way to motivate the healthcare industry and workers. The best time to start the healing process from the government is now than at any other time.!

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