Beware of the man who approaches you at MGM Medical College and Hospital, asks whether you need any help and then suggests that you visit a nursing home or a clinic he knows where treatment will be better and quicker, though costlier.
Touts or agents, call them what you like, but the reality is that such people are on the prowl at the state-ran hospital in the guise of good Samaritans, ready to take patients and their relatives for a ride if given the slightest chance.
The Sakchi-based heal hub is slowly rising to the threat posed by this growing band of so-called agents, who usually work for private nursing homes, clinics and pathology centres, and can be mostly spotted at the orthopaedic and pathological departments.
One such agent, who goes by the name M. Raja, was even caught by paramedical staff near the orthopaedic department a fortnight ago. Police present on the premises were also called in, but former superintendent S.S. Prasad let him go after a warning.
Attached with a private clinic located on Penar Road in Sakchi, Raja is said to be a physiotherapist himself. On the pretext of asking patients whether they need physiotherapy, he is known to persuade them to visit the clinic.
Shankar Prasad, a patient who had been approached by Raja at MGM hospital, said: “Yes, someone called Raja had contacted me, saying he would do physiotherapy for me as I have a problem in my legs. He also advised me to go to the clinic where he works with my examination report, saying I would recover quickly. But I was hard-pressed for money and didn’t visit the clinic.”
The pathological department is another easy target.
According to sources, these agents regularly visit the surgery ward and try to convince patients to get their blood samples tested at private pathology centres on the pretext that they would get error-free reports there. In the process, the patient ends up coughing up Rs 200 or more per report, while the agent pockets a cool cut.
Arun Kumar, head of the department of pathology, confirmed this. “We had caught one such agent in the past and handed him over to the hospital administration,” he said.
Deputy superintendent Ashok Kumar Singh, who is in charge of the hospital after S.S. Prasad’s death on August 25, promised to look into the complaints. “I would ensure that such illegal practices come to an end besides beefing up security to prevent entry of touts and agents,” he said.