A non-governmental group under the aegis of People Living with Sickle Cell Disorder(PLSD) has lamented the rising cases of detention of indigent patients especially their members by hospitals across Anambra State over inability or failure to clear their medical bills.
The bills, often incurred as a result of the health condition and related challenges of patients was bitterly condemned. The group described the detention of the patients as illegal, inhuman, and wicked of the hospital management.
According to the National Coordinator of the group, Mrs Aisha Edward, seven of its members were currently being detained in various hospitals across the state over inability to pay their bills.
She lamented that some of the patients have been detained by the hospitals for as long as six months, while the longest serving of them, a girl has been kept in detention for one year and four months, adding she has been given strict warning not to try escaping as the consequences would be severe.
Mrs Edward, in an interview at Nanka, said that many “unpatriotic, heartless and wicked citizens,” especially hospitals have taken undue advantage of people living with sickle cell anaemia for too long, and “we will not tolerate this latest discovery.
“I visited a hospital here in Aguata area to check on one of our members who was on admission there and found out that three of them were being detained against their will because of huge hospital bills they incurred.
“I am surprised that this could be happening in Anambra, and this has made me ask more questions and discovered that another hospital in Onitsha has as much as four of our members who are being detained. These are just the ones we know, and there maybe many of our members who are still being held in other hospitals.”
Falling short of naming the particular doctors and hospitals, Mrs Edward said she was more pained that the hospitals were mission hospitals.
“We are giving them from now till December 1, 2018 to immediately discharge the patients, else we will publish their names and take up a case against them. I am surprised why a trained medical doctor would not discharge a patient after managing him and wait for payment later.
“The church has also been infiltrated by corrupt-minded people who now use people’s health condition to defraud other people, and we will not let this happen because the church, not judiciary is the last hope of the common man.”
She disclosed to the alarmed audience that one of the affected patients who sneaked out of her hospital bill to her was charged N1.2million, abandoned by her family and has since been detained by the hospital due to her inability to pay.
Edward added that, “The patient told me in confidence that she was told by the management of the hospital that she was being detained in the hope that in December, a known philanthropist who goes from hospital to hospital paying bills of patients would visit the hospital to clear her debt.
“You can imagine the mindset of the so-called mission hospital? It is even possible that they may have inflated the bill, in wait for a philanthropist. So what happens if the philanthropist fails to come? The patient would be held in the hospital forever, is it?”
She contended that the hospital environment was not the best place to stay as the patient may at the end contract more diseases. She said most of the patients being detained were also orphans.