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02.12.2004 General News

Korle-Bu Detals 23 Nursing Mothers

By Chronicle
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…for non-payment of medical bills

Chronicle -- THE AUTHORITIES at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital are currently in a tight position due to the inability of some mothers to settle their medical bills, The CHRONICLE has learnt.

The Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the hospital, an ultra-modern facility with state of the art equipment comparable only to those abroad is currently holding 23 new born babies in detention due to the inability of their parents to settle their huge medical bills, running into millions of cedis, accumulated over some weeks or only a couple of days after delivery.

Specially set up by the current administration of the hospital with the responsibility of attending to pre-mature delivery and other related cases pertaining to newly born babies, investigations further reveal that despite the daily increase in admission cases, the unit can no longer admit patients since the outfit is 'jammed' with cases of debtors, who are still occupying the facility, due to financial constraints despite the fact that they had been duly discharged.

About 20 of the mother 'victims' the paper spoke to, all gave similar accounts of the dire predicament they were facing with bills ranging between ¢2million and ¢7million which many of them claim they had no means to pay.

According to one of the mothers whose child is being held in 'detention' at the unit, upon her admission at the maternity block to deliver, barely a month ago, she was made to pay an initial amount of ¢800,000 when her child was transferred to NICU for special medical attention, which she indicated was not part of the total medical bills.

She further noted that after spending one month at the unit, she was discharged but by this time her bills had sky-rocketed to the whopping sum of ¢6.5million. She disclosed that when her husband tried paying ¢3million as part payment, he was not permitted on the excuse that part payment was not acceptable to the hospital authorities.

Asked how she intended settling her indebtedness, she declared that neither she nor her striving husband could settle such a bill at a go because they were not economically comfortable enough.

According to sources, the authorities had already driven the 23 mothers to the Department of Social Welfare for an amicable settlement of the bills, which information revealed, currently stands at ¢65,600,300million.

Further prying revealed that the air condition at the section where the babies were being 'detained' had been switched off intentionally in spite of the fact that 3 babies were confined in one baby's cot, resulting in some of them contracting heat rashes, as confirmed by some of the mothers.

According to another mother who spoke to the paper on condition of anonymity, the hospital authorities had threatened that their inability to settle their bills in time would result in they being made to breastfeed their babies at the ground floor.

She hinted also that at the Department of Social Welfare, each of them was asked to come with a relative on government payroll to serve as a guarantor for their release, which would ensure that failure to honor their part of the agreement would lead to a deduction from their salaries.

When contacted, Mustapha Salifu, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the hospital confirmed there were 23 mothers as the paper had gathered, who had been discharged at NICU but was quick to denounce the notion that they were being held in 'detention' due to their indebtedness as originally intimated by the paper in a question put to him.

He expressed grave concern over the situation pertaining at the unit because according to him, it was pathetic that the babies were still at the hospital although discharged. He noted however that the hospital had no other option than use all means possible to retrieve the various amounts from the affected parents.

The PRO who seemed filled with empathy for the victims, further stressed that the hospital authorities were engaged in deliberations with the Health ministry to fashion out a way of finding out the homes and location of all parents indebted to the unit to enable them pay in installment on certain liberal conditions.

He, however, denied the assertion that the unit was not accepting part payment as a form of settlement and asked all who had been denied the opportunity, to report to his outfit to address the issue.

He made use of the opportunity as well to make a passionate appeal to individuals and organizations to extend support to the unit in order to help them waive the bills of those who could not afford it.

Meanwhile, the paper gathered that International Needs Ghana (ING) a Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) had donated an amount of ¢6,156,200 to facilitate the discharge of three of the child 'detainees'.

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