Pune: One doctor from Auto Cluster facility, two from private hospital arrested for ‘taking Rs 1 lakh from Covid patient for ventilator bed’

Police identified the three doctors as Dr Pravin Jadhav from the Auto Cluster hospital, Dr Sachin Kasbe and Dr Shashank Rale of Padmaja Hospital in Walhekarwadi.

Police on Sunday arrested three doctors for allegedly taking Rs 1 lakh from the family of a Covid-19 patient for a ventilator bed at the civic-run Auto Cluster Covid hospital at Chinchwad. The accused are facing charges of extortion and cheating.

Police identified the three doctors as Dr Pravin Jadhav from the Auto Cluster hospital, Dr Sachin Kasbe and Dr Shashank Rale of Padmaja Hospital in Walhekarwadi. Dr Jadhav works as a consultant with the PCMC hospital while the other two are from a private hospital.

“An FIR was filed against the three doctors on a complaint lodged by the PCMC on Saturday. We have arrested the three,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Manchak Ippar on Sunday. He said the trio will be produced before the court on Monday.

On Saturday, the PCMC administration lodged a complaint, against which an FIR was filed against a doctor from the Auto Cluster facility and two other doctors of a private hospital. Additional municipal commissioner Ulhas Jagtap submitted the complaint to the Pimpri police station. In the complaint letter, the PCMC said, “The PCMC has set up a hospital for Covid patients at Auto Cluster. The treatment here is provided free of cost. The PCMC has appointed a contractor, Fortune Sparsh Healthcare Pvt, to run the hospital.”

The complaint said, “At the PCMC general body meeting, held on April 30, corporators made serious allegations against the contractor running the healthcare facility. They alleged that one doctor from Auto Cluster hospital and two private hospital doctors took Rs 1 lakh from a patient for a ventilator bed at the Auto Cluster hospital… We request you to kindly take action in the matter…”

At the civic general body meeting on April 30, corporators across party lines had demanded an FIR against those who took money, and for the contract to be scrapped. After hearing them out, Mayor Usha Dhore had directed the civic administration to lodge a complaint against the doctors.

When contacted, Dr Amol Holkunde, CEO of Sparsh, denied that anyone from his facility took money. “Actually, it is the modus operandi of private hospitals to make false calls to the Auto Cluster facility and then lie that a bed is available on the payment of Rs 1 lakh. These private doctors then send patients to the Auto Cluster facility. If the family does not get the bed, they return the amount. If the family gets the bed, they retain the amount. On our part, we admit the patients after they are referred to us by YCM hospital, jumbo hospital or through civic helpline numbers. This facility is free of cost… The PCMC pays us the contracted amount, why would anyone collect anything from the patient?” he said, adding that the allegations were baseless.

Corporators Kundan Gaikwad and Vikas Dolas, who first complained to the PCMC about the incident, demanded a thorough probe into the matter. “We have already urged the municipal commissioner for a deeper probe and ensure that no money is taken from the patients,” they said.

According to Jagtap, the patient in this case was brought to a private hospital in Walhekarwadi. “Since the patient’s oxygen saturation levels had dropped, the doctors suggested them to contact various hospitals for a ventilator bed. The doctors then told them that a ventilator bed was available, but the family will have to pay Rs 1 lakh. The family allegedly paid the amount.”

Corporators have alleged that Rs 80,000 was paid to the Auto Cluster doctor, while Rs 20,000 went to the two private doctors. The patient, however, died on April 30.

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