At a time when hotels are empty and hospitals are overwhelmed, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it makes good business sense to share the workload in a mutually-beneficial arrangement: patients get treated by hospitals while staying in hotels.
This is what is happening now in Kolkata, a city that may not enjoy the reputation of Chennai when it comes to medical treatment but where hospitals are known to come up with innovative packages from time to time.
Beginning of a trend
Two COVID-designated hospitals in the sprawling neighbourhood of Salt Lake City — officially, Bidhannagar — have tied up with a local hotel each so that the patients under their care, showing mild to moderate symptoms, can isolate themselves in these luxury properties. And this appears to be the beginning of a trend.
The AMRI Hospitals has tied up with Hotel Monotel, while the ILS Hospitals has entered into an arrangement with the four-star Hotel Sonnet. “We are in talks with a few other top hotels to set up more such facilities. Since there is a shortage of beds across all hospitals, the satellite facilities are helping us keep beds free for those who really need hospital support,” Rupak Barua, Group CEO of the AMRI Hospitals and president, Association of Hospitals of Eastern India, told The Hindu.
The chief attractions offered by both these hotels include complimentary Wi-Fi, meals, packaged mineral water, tea/coffee and isolated entry/exit. These small luxuries don’t come cheap, of course: at Monotel a patient will have to shell out ₹7,000 per day and at Sonnet ₹9,000 a day; their “isolation package” also includes continuous on-site monitoring by doctors and nurses of the respective hospitals. But the tariffs aren’t too steep either, considering the horror stories one routinely comes across about hospitals slapping patients with prohibitive bills at the end of their stay.
Spurt in infections
The arrangement is not only a smart business move — hospitals get to treat patients who don’t require hospitalisation while hotels, completely out of business since March, finally make some money — but also comes in handy at the time when the explosion of COVID-19 cases has only just begun in Kolkata. The sudden spurt in infections has forced the West Bengal government to impose a two-day lockdown in the State every week.
Several hospitals in the city, including the Woodlands and the Medica, have already come up with attractive home-care packages that can be availed by patients who are asymptomatic and who show mild to moderate symptoms. These hospitals remote-monitor patients during the course of the treatment and bring them over for admission only if their condition worsens.