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03.08.2005 Health

Patients abscond from Dodi-Papase Hospital without settling bills

GNA

Dodi-Papase (V/R), Aug 3, GNA - The number of patients absconding without paying up their medical bills after receiving treatment at the Mary Theresa Hospital at Dodi-Papase in the Kadjebi District has increased significantly, Mr Stannard Issah Mahama, the Administrator of the Hospital, said on Tuesday.

He said 20 patients absconded leaving behind unsettled bills of more than 35 million cedis between January and June this year. Additionally, Mr Mahama, who speaking to the GNA, said 50 patients did not pay their bills amounting to about 75 million cedis in 2004. The Administrator said the majority of the culprits were Togolese, who were rushed to the hospital under emergency conditions but absconded soon after getting well.

He said the modus operandi of these patients was to begin evacuating their personal effects one after another after they had succeeded in giving false addresses, which tended to make them Ghanaians.

He recounted that a Togolese women, who was rushed in with complications was later diagnosed to have contracted HIV/AIDS and died. Her bills were fully settled when her relatives needed her body for burial, otherwise "it was going to be bad debt as usual".

Mr Mahama said the situation was precarious that the cost of tracing clients to redeem their indebtedness were not cost-effective as it only added up to the overhead-cost.

The Administrator was, however, optimistic that when the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) came on board it would curtail the unfortunate situation.

He mentioned that the Hospital was faced with enormous problems, which included dilapidated structures and obsolete facilities including faulty theatre lights and beds and lack of ambulance. Mr Mahama said the Hospital was under staffed with only 16 nurses instead of the 30 required, with three doctors, two of whom are Cubans. He lamented that the internally generated fund was inadequate and not forthcoming, as the people in the border area were generally poor. Mr Mahama said strategies devised to enable patients to settle their medical bills by instalment had been flouted with impunity. He called on philanthropists, governmental and non-governmental organisations to come to the aid of the Hospital.

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