December 17, 2017

As Baby Leaves ‘Detention’… Parents were told child could be ‘detained’ over unpaid hospital bills – CMD

As Baby Leaves ‘Detention’… Parents were told child could be ‘detained’ over unpaid hospital bills – CMD

Mother and child

• Girl’s father thanks ‘Good Samaritans’

By Dayo Johnson, Akure

FOR no fault of hers, baby Temitope Omotoso was christened on the eighth day of her birth at the premises of Ondo State Mother and Child Hospital (MCH) while in ‘detention’ with her mother, Taiwo Omotoso.

Mother and child

The father, Oladapo Omotoso, and mother, Taiwo, conducted the christening in a corner in the children’s ward where they were confined to by the hospital management for unpaid bills.

Their joy was aborted by the action of the management of the government-owned hospital and this drew flanks not only from across the state but also beyond the shores of the country.

The hospital had refused to discharge Temitope because the breadwinner of the family, Oladapo, 30, and an Okada operator, failed to pay N40, 000 being the hospital bill for her delivery through a caesarean operation.

For 22 days, the baby and mother slept on a chair in the premises of the hospital with a warning to security guards to keep watch over them to prevent them from escaping.

Sunday Vanguard gathered that the mother was brought to the hospital in an emergency condition and was rushed to the theatre to be operated upon in order to save her and the baby.

MCH  was established by the immediate past administration of Ondo State to offer qualitative health care to women and children and run an efficient, integrated maternal and child care facility. It was dedicated to the care of pregnant women and children less than five years of age.

Normal and complicated deliveries were carried out free of charge during the Mimiko regime, forcing pregnant women across the country to troop to the state for maternity services.

But now men have been warned to zip up if they can’t afford the new fee regime introduced by the Mother and Child Hospital under the Akeredolu administration. Government has fingered the economic realities in the country as the reason for the introduction of fees in the hospital.

For a normal delivery, patients would need to cough out about N25, 000 while complicated deliveries, which include caesarean section, attract over N40, 000.

The fee paying regime in the hospital has attracted criticism even from even leaders of the ruling All Progressive Party (APC) in the state who argued that it is an unpopular decision taken in the early months of the administration. The opposition party has remained silent on the present government tickering of the laudable programmes of immediate past administration.

Findings showed that things have gone bad in the hospital located in Akure as the authorities spend N60, 000 daily to fuel generators which run for only 10 hours while electricity from public power company for another five hours making 15 hours daily. The remaining nine hours, the entire hospital is without light but critical areas such as the theatre is provided electricity with small generators.

Others offices, including that of the Chief Medical Director (CMD), were without electricity when this reporter visited the hospital, last Wednesday.

The staff of the MCH attributed the sorry state to cash crunch as it was yet to collect allocation this year from the state government to run the hospital.

To make ends meet, the hospital management thus decided to close its eyes to any form of charity.

The family of Oladapo Omotoso and many others families who could not foot their medical bills despite agreeing to do so after treatment have had a bitter taste of the new development in the hospital.

Of concern was the treatment meted out to baby Tope and her mother by the MCH which attracted mixed feelings. While many lashed out at the hospital, some argued that the father of the baby ought to have showed some level of responsibility by giving birth to the number of children he can cater for and should wake up to the reality that free medical care has gone with the immediate past administration.

Meanwhile, Sunday Vanguard learnt that the inability of father of the baby, who was born through caesarean operation in the hospital, led to the baby and her mother’s detention on November 16 and they were only “set free” on December 10.

Parents of new babies who also could not pay their medical bills in the hospital were made to deposit their belongings such as motorcycles and generating sets until they had the means to pay.

ln an interview, Oladapo said his new born baby and wife were made to pass the night for that number of days “ on the chair in the hospital”.

“My inability to pay the N40, 000 required by the hospital made my new baby named Temitope and her mother to suffer untold hardship in the hospital”, he narrated.

A political analyst in the state said “it is rather unfortunate that the realities of today can no longer afford us to continue to run some of our basic institutions as charity establishment”.

He went on,”Yes, two or three years back, that man may not have been in this situation but, honestly, the realities are obvious.

“However, I think government should come out with a social intervention scheme to address issues like this.

“We can’t deny the fact that there are so many helpless and hopeless indigent people out there who certainly need this social help from government”.

Meanwhile, some Nigerians, who were moved by the plight of baby Temitope and her mother, have volunteered to pay the hospital bills.

In fact, they have started donating cash to that effect.

First to visit Vanguard Newspapers office in Lagos after reading the report was a man, who preferred to be anonymous, from Warri, Delta State.

He later told the correspondent in Ondo State that he was moved by the plight of the family. He thereafter donated N40,000 to the father on Thursday to enable him settle the hospital bill.

Also, the President, World Care International Ministry, US, Olajide Animasaun, donated N20, 000 to Oladapo.

Animasaun said he also read about the story of the detained baby and the mother.

The money was presented to Temitope’s father at the Vanguard Office in Akure by the church’s representative in the state, Jimoh Esan.

Animasahin said, “The story of this family touched the hearts and soul of members of World Care International Ministry.

“There is no reason a new life should have to undergo such ordeal of waiting in the hospital for days instead of being celebrated and be received joyfully by the parents’ family.

“At World Care, we care about life and believe that God gives life for a divine and specific reason. We hope that this family situation stirs up the godliness in us to help others as God enables us.

“Only God knows how many families undergo such ordeal. It is my hope and prayer that the government of the day will do more to help the needy. Give a helping hand today and God will bless the labor of your love”.

Many more Nigerians have reached out to father of the baby girl in cash since the Vanguard Newspapers published the story last week.

Responding, the father of the baby, Oladapo, appreciated the donors and prayed God to enrich their pockets.

He said that he is an ICT technician but had to engage in Okada business to feed his family of four including baby Temitope.

Contacted on the treatment meted out to the baby and her mother, the CMD of the MCH, Dr Adesina Akintan, said that the economic realities in the country necessitated the hospital’s insistence that those treated should pay.

Akintan said the hospital always informed patients that they would be treated and pay later after they might have filled the emergency treatment forms given to them on arrival in the hospital.

According to him, the hospital was a free care hospital but that the status changed because of the poor state of the economy.

“Before now, the funding was 100 per cent by government. It was free to the patients but the state government was paying the hospital for the treatment”, he said.

“We had an agreement with government then that a certain percentage would be paid on the number of those that are treated and we spend the money to buy things used for the patients such as reagents and caesarean packs.

“But it got to a stage that the funding was not forthcoming and we have to introduce an affordable tariff hike

“A patient pays less than N40, 000 for caesarean delivery without complications and N8, 000 for normal delivery”.

He said that, in the case of baby Temitope, “the mother was brought in an emergency condition and in order to save the mother and child, we decided to swing into action by operating the woman.

“We did not detain the baby and the mother. We informed them right from the beginning that they will have to pay but, to save the mother and baby, we decided to carry out the operation. But we found out later that the father was having challenges in defraying the debt”.

According to him, “the hospital is owing over N26million to contractors for the supply of drugs and other items required for operations”.

Akintan added, “The drugs were administered on patients brought in life-threatening conditions that we could not ignore.”