Masvingo hospital owed $3m in unpaid medical bills

FINANCIALLY-HAMSTRUNG Masvingo General Hospital is owed over $3 million in unpaid bills by patients being given advance treatment, a development that has hindered the smooth flow of operations, a senior health official has disclosed.

BY TATENDA CHITAGU

The hospital’s medical superintendent, Julias Chirengwa, told Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Ezra Chadzamira last week that some of the patients give fake addresses after being treated and this makes it difficult for the institution to make follow-ups to recover debts.

“Finances are a major challenge. We do get money from government and other partners and we also collect from patients, but the money is inadequate.

Government policy ensures that maternity, under-five and over 65 patients are exempted from paying fees.

Those that are not exempted, some come and we treat them hoping they will pay later, but they do not give correct addresses,” he said.

“These defaulters owe us over $3 million. If we collect that money, it will go a long way in addressing our monetary challenges.”

Chirengwa said the hospital was sinking in debt as it owed suppliers huge sums of money.

“The hospital owes suppliers over $660 000. Some are suppliers that give us medicines, while others are social services. We also owe power utility Zesa and TelOne and we are failing to pay them.

We do hope that in due course, we will be able to pay,” he said.

Chirengwa also said the hospital does not have enough office space and its buildings were old and needed major facelifts.

The institution also faces transport problems, as it has few cars, while the staff bus is broken down.

The 276-bed hospital is the province’s sole referral centre, catering for seven districts.

It requires a full staff complement of 743, but currently has 583.

The institution on average handles about 240 normal deliveries and 60 Caesarian deliveries per month, and treats 207 patients per day (out-patients) and 140 in-patients per day, while per month it admits 600 patients.

Major surgical operations done per month were about 100, Chirengwa said.

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