Kathmandu Clinic Not Letting in Quake Victims Who Can't Pay

Government hospitals are suffering a dire shortage of beds after Saturday's 7.8-magnitude quake, but private clinic in the capital isn't treating the poor.

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
A Nepalese resident watches an ongoing search and rescue operation at a destroyed building site in Kathmandu on April 30, 2015.
A Nepalese resident watches an ongoing search and rescue operation at a destroyed building site in Kathmandu on April 30, 2015.Credit: AFP
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

KATHMANDU, Nepal — As earthquake victims lay waiting on the filthy floors of government hospitals, the private Ciwec Clinic is turning back anyone who can’t afford it.

Since Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake, government hospitals have suffered a dire shortage of beds, the country’s Health Ministry has said.

Many of the injured are being sent home after receiving initial treatment; many are lying along roadsides. The Israeli field hospital in Kathmandu was filled in minutes.

Ciwec, which describes itself as a “hospital/travel medicine center,” is in the city center near foreign embassies. It is considered one of the best hospitals in the city, but on Wednesday it remained nearly empty.

The institution normally serves the city’s wealthy and tourists; it is considered fancy even by Western standards. Admission costs $50, even before a patient sees a doctor. Each specialized treatment costs hundreds of dollars.

An injured avalanche victim from Israel is wheeled towards an ambulance after receiving treatment at Ciwec Clinic in Katmandu, Nepal, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. Credit: AP

There are 30 rooms, including treatment and operating rooms. The hospital can handle up to 100 overnight patients, though in a crisis it could handle many more.

It was hard to find patients to talk to. On Wednesday night there were only five overnight patients — some of them tourists, others wealthy locals. Some had undergone surgery, but none had been injured in the earthquake.

“It costs money to get into this hospital — not everyone can come here and get in,” said an employee who proudly showed us the rooms and equipment. “At first we served people who just showed up, but now it’s for people who can pay for the treatment. This place isn’t open to the wider public.”

Word of the clinic not letting people in spread quickly. “It’s hard to believe there are empty beds there when we don’t have enough room at other hospitals, with people waiting to be seen by doctors,” said a social activist who said he was afraid to give his name.

Meanwhile, 22-year-old Shira Tzuk from Modi’in, who was airlifted out of a major trekking region, said Nepalese rescuers were giving priority to the well-connected.

“The first helicopter to arrive in the area, where there were 250 tourists, came to get out some rich kid,” she said. “There was a struggle, but he got on board.”

There are also rumors about food and medicine being sent to soldiers and tourists in cut-off areas, with villagers receiving nothing and having to loot shipments in order to survive.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


U.S. antisemitism envoy Deborah Lipstadt and Prime Minister Yair Lapid shake hands, on Monday.

U.S. Envoy: ‘If This Happened in Another Country, Wouldn’t We Call It Antisemitism?’

Dr. Claris Harbon in the neighborhood where she grew up in Ashdod.

A Women's Rights Lawyer Felt She Didn't Belong in Israel. So She Moved to Morocco

Avi Zinger, the current Israeli licensee of Ben & Jerry’s, who bought the ice cream maker's business interests in Israel.

Meet the Israeli Who Wants to Rename Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ‘Judea and Samaria’

Election ad featuring Yair Lapid in Rahat, the largest Arab city in Israel's Negev region.

This Bedouin City Could Decide Who Is Israel's Next Prime Minister

Mohammed 'Moha' Alshawamreh.

'It Was Real Shock to Move From a Little Muslim Village, to a Big Open World'

From the cover of 'Shmutz.'

'There Are Similarities Between the Hasidic Community and Pornography’