Tension as Patients and parklane Hospital management disagrees over bills


Tension is building up at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology Teaching Hospital, Enugu, popularly known as Parklane, as some patients who have been treated and discharged but not allowed to go home are getting restive.

The patients are angry that the management of the hospital has bluntly refused them to go home upon their discharge unless they pay their medical bills, which they claimed are outrageous and do not represent what they incurred while getting treatment in the hospital.

Consequently, they are appealing to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to intervene and order the authorities of the hospital to allow them go home.

Lamenting on her plight, Blessing Oji, a mother of five, told Oriental News that she has since been discharged from the hospital in August, but forced to stay back as a result of her inability to settle her medical and sundry bills, which she said, are totally overblown and contained fees that she knows nothing about.

She had been diagnosed of Diabetes in 2011 but after several attempts to treat the illness, her efforts did not pay off.

She then proceeded to ESUT Teaching Hospital as a last resort in the hope that she would get well soon and return to her family in Udi, Enugu State.

But her dream of a reunion with her family is yet to come through as two months after she was discharged from the hospital, she is still there because of what she described as “excess charges” in her bill.

She said she was presented with a bill of  N762,000 for the period of three months she stayed in the hospital, an amount she said has left her and her family in deep shock.

“I am sure our real charges are not up to that amount. Some of the drugs I paid for are still contained in it,” she pointed out.

She told Oriental News she had called the attention of the nurses in her ward to the perceived irregularities, but her pleas fell on deaf ears.

According to her, “there was a time when one of the nurses called my daughter staying with me here and started shouting at her. She came back to me and started crying. When I asked her why she was crying, she told me that the nurse said we are going about begging for money. That both of us have decided to use this place as our home”.

Mrs Oji recalled that on one occasion, they had written a letter to the state Commissioner for Health but never got any response from him.

“The commissioner once visited here; he came to assess how things are going here. That was when my husband wrote a letter to him asking for his intervention in our case but till today, nothing has been done about it,” she said.

Mrs Oji is not the only one in this situation. Nwani Osmond, a Mechanical Engineering student of Okoh Polytechnic, is suffering the same fate with her.

He was admitted into the hospital early in October after sustaining an injury from a fall while attempting to climb a tree and thus the need for a surgery because of the wound he sustained.

The 22-year-old narrated how he has also been forced to stay in the hospital more than he had bargained for after he was told to pay N138,000, an accumulation of his bills for the three weeks he had stayed.

“I was discharged when it was exactly three weeks since I came here, that was on 27th of this month. After I was discharged, the bill the nurse gave to me was too much. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. Some of the things contained in the bill such as daily pay, feeding were outrageous. I don’t even eat their food but they still added it there,” he said.

On the verge of breaking down in tears, he recalled how he was asked to pay N6,000 for the drugs which he had already paid for.

“There is another one they wrote as Vicryl in the bill, that one is N7,000. I have asked them what it is all about but they didn’t explain to me.

“I complained about some of the payments to the doctors but they said they don’t know about it, that it is the nurses that wrote it. We have tried to meet the nurses but they said we should go and meet the management or the accounts department”, he lamented.

Osmond also revealed that he was not the only one experiencing such problem in his ward as according to him, “some of us you are seeing here have been discharged for a long time but because of the bills they gave us, there is nothing we can do except to stay back and hope that God will help us one day”.

For Ogbonna Ugwuja, a 44-year-old suffering from diabetic foot ulcer, the world is about to collapse on his head as he is yet to come to terms with the the N541,150 hospital bill given to him.

Looking visibly worried and downcast, he struggled to gather energy as he took Oriental News down memory lane to recall how his ordeals started.

“I was admitted here with diabetic foot ulcer sometime in June. Ever since then, the sickness worsened. I continued receiving treatment till October 4 when I was discharged. I was given a bill of N541,150. I have been able to pay the sum of N210,000 and pleaded with them to allow me to go and they refused.

“My problem is with some parts of the bills they gave to me and some other persons here. For instance, in mine the utilities and the feeding. Utility is N224,000 while the feeding is N83,250. I don’t eat their food because I have diabetics and most of the food they cook here is starchy. I buy food outside yet they are forcing me to pay for what I did not eat. I was telling them that these things are too much at least as a government hospital,” he said.

He pointed out that apart from being charged to pay for services that were not rendered to him, the nature of the hospital does not justify the bill given to them.

“I don’t see anything in this ward that could warrant such amount. As you can see, there is nothing new or sophisticated here. And I am paying for bed, N1,300 per day”, he lamented.

Not only that, Ugwuja also said that even after paying for some of the drugs used during his treatment, they still re-surfaced in the bill.

“During the operation done on me, my people had to go to the pharmacy to get some drugs but they are still asking us to pay for those drugs,” he said.

Further checks by Oriental News revealed that some of the patients have made efforts to call the attention of the hospital management to these alleged false charges but each time they tried, the response they got end up worsening their plight.

A female patient who identified herself as Mary, who stays in the surgical ward, lamented that on one occasion when she had notified a nurse on the perceived error made in her bill, she was rebuked and warned to “stop constituting a nuisance in the hospital.

“If there is a way some of us could reach the hospital management or even the governor since it is a government hospital, we believe he will do something about it.”

The patients, therefore, called on the state government to  come to their rescue and “save us from the ill-treatment we are receiving here”.

However, while reacting to the allegations, the hospital management described the claims by some of the patients as lies, insisting that the hospital would not treat its patients that way.

The management through the hospital’s Public Relations Officer, John Nwatu, said that the hospital has always done its best to provide quality services to patients, saying that any patient that has any issue with his or her bills should go through the right process and lay a complaint.

His words: “For every payment any patient made a receipt is issued. So, if you have a case of a patient asking to pay for what he or she already had paid for, all the patient has to do is to show evidence of payment. You take the receipt to the Project Management Office (PMO) where issues of payments are resolved. If your claims are true, we do the bill adjustment and your money is refunded to you immediately”.

On why there are instances where a payment a patient already made resurfaces in his or her bill, Nwatu said the hospital management has at various times put in place measures to address such cases.

“But as you know, management is a continuous process. We keep making efforts, no one achieves whatever he wants to achieve in a day. So, we are trying our best to bring an end to cases where patients are asked to pay for either what they have already paid for or for the services they were not rendered”.

He admitted that although there are instances where patients have complained about being charged for the services they did not receive such as feeding, but the management has always refunded such persons their money once their claims are in order.

“Sometimes you even see a patient coming to complain that he was charged for a particular drug he had already paid for in the pharmacy during treatment and when you check, you find out that it is not so; maybe the patient is even talking about a different drug altogether,” he said.
Tension as Patients and parklane Hospital management disagrees over bills Tension as Patients and parklane Hospital management disagrees over bills Reviewed by Vita Ioanes on Wednesday, December 02, 2015 Rating: 5

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