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Times of India
10 June 2010
By Durgesh Nandan Jha
New Delhi, India

Families Hire Medical Equipment, In–House Nursing To Sidestep Expenses
Hospitals at home beat high costs
Framed posters of Lord Rama hang on the walls here and soothing bhajans are played in background for 81–year–old Darshana Chadha, who is suffering from terminal illness. There are no bars for visitors too.

Chadha’s home in Lajpat Nagar is her new hospital, equipped with basic medical facilities like a high–end hospital bed which is remote–controlled, oxygen concentrator, suction machine, pulse oxymetry and a nursing attendant among others. Her daughter, Uma Khanna, who is herself a US–based doctor, says the inhouse facility is five times cheaper than hospital charges and provides more conducive environment for patients like her mother who require medical maintenance only.

In Delhi, more and more patients are going for rented medical equipment and inhouse nursing care post surgery in case of terminal illnesses to escape the prohibitive expenses of long term hospitalization.

“She was admitted in a private hospital for 20 days after suffering fracture in the right hip and pelvic bone. No treatment is possible at her age so we shifted her to this apartment and arranged for equipment and two nurses for continuous monitoring. Our monthly expense has reduced to Rs 30,000 from Rs 1,20,000 per month. “My mother is happy to be at home,” said Khanna. She can listen to her favourite bhajans, children can play around as their aren’t any other patients, as is the case in hospital wards.

“Home also provides emotional support for patients like her suffering from chronic illnesses and helps them relax and get better,” added Khanna.

There are many organized healthcare agencies in Delhi which deal in renting of medical equipment–from electrical hospital beds and breast pumps to respiratory machines for lung support–at affordable rates. “Mostly paralytic patients and those suffering from cancer order for medical equipment. People also take on rent wheelchairs and walking aids,” said Sanjay Srivastava, senior official of a renting agency called Medirent. Nurses and physiotherapists can be hired through private agencies. “I called Just Dial to get the number of one such agency,” said Roshan Lal, who is using rented medical equipment for in–house care of a relative suffering from cancer.

According to Dr A K Mahapatra, head of the neurosurgery department at AIIMS, home care can be helpful in most cases of neurological problems, including stroke, trauma and coma. “Acute treatment in brainstroke cases and other chronic illnesses related to brain is generally required for two weeks. It is advisable to make provision of intermediate treatment and care at home itself. Apart from saving money and clearing the way for serious cases in government hospitals like AIIMS, this also helps in faster improvement in the patient’s condition due to continuous family support,” he said. Mahapatra added that home care is popular abroad.

“We encourage home care. We have a patient training program and even the facility of visiting nurses, who can monitor the patient’s condition at home post surgery. In open–heart surgery cases, joint replacement cases and cancer surgery, postoperative care is largely possible at home if one can arrange basic medical equipment,” said Dr A K Dubey, medical superintendent of B L Kapur Memorial Hospital. Head of community medicine department at AIIMS, Dr Bir Singh said chances of crossinfection are lesser in an isolated set–up. Such practices should be encouraged.

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