One person’s adversity is another advantage. Ambulance services in and around Visakhapatnam have turned too expensive, making it difficult for relatives of Covid-19 patients to shift them to hospitals during an emergency. Unlike ambulances run by district administration like 108 or 104 services or private hospitals, ambulances run by private operators quoting prohibitively high prices without having a fixed rate.
As the rise in cases in Vizag continues with alarming level, there is a surge in demand, private ambulance operators are making a killing. Why not? When most of them deny to take sick patients to hospitals during this Covid-19 times, we carry the patients with utmost risk and command some premium prise, said most of the private ambulance service providers to Hello Vizag.
There are allegations that private hospitals with ambulances are reluctant to let their vehicles be used by Covid patients. Private operators can charge Rs 8,000 for a distance of 10 km if the time is around midnight and close to Rs 6,000 for 15km if it is around 7pm.
On Sunday Hello Vizag spoke to several ambulance operators posing as a patient’s relative. Almost all said they would ferry the patient to hospital only if a bed was confirmed. What was left unsaid was that the driver would not go around with the patient hopping from one hospital to another looking for a bed. Confirm a bed first before calling us,” an ambulance operator in Jail road said. “If you need oxygen support, we have everything with us.”
An operator at Madhurawada demanded Rs 6,000 to carry the patient to KGH Hospital from PM Palem, a distance of around 14 kms. “Normally, we would have asked for Rs 3500. But in this Covid-19 situation, our men will have to wear personal protective equipment,” the operator told. Earlier in the day, relatives of a Covid-19 patient said they had to pay Rs 7,000 to get him admitted to Care Hospital from Gajuwaka. Around midnight on Saturday, an ambulance driver had apparently demanded Rs 8,000 to shift to Pradhama Hospital from Murali nagar. Another ambulance was arranged as relatives pleaded helplessness.
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