Mater Dei demands US$5 000 from COVID-19 patients

THE Catholic Church-run Mater Dei Hospital, which opened its doors in May as a COVID-19 isolation and treatment facility is charging patients US$60 for casualty, US$3 000 for general ward and US$5 000 for intensive care unit.

BY SILAS NKALA

An internal memorandum dated July 1 signed by credit controller Obedience Ncube read: “Kindly be advised that all COVID-19 patients are required to pay a deposit of US$60 for casualty, US$3 000 for general ward and US$5 000 for intensive care unit hospitalisation.”

When Southern Eye called the hospital for verification, an official who declined to reveal her name refused to comment on the authenticity of the memo, saying she could not comment on a memo circulating on social media.

“Did we send you that memo? I am sorry we cannot comment on a memo circulating on social media,” she said.

However, sources said those were the hospital charges.

Stakeholder, Medical Aid Society of Southern Africa (Masca) chief executive officer Douglass Bramsen said he had no information on the hospital charges.

“I am an associate with the Mater Dei Hospital. Our members are still able to put up there without paying, that is what I know for now. If it’s an internal memo, we would not know about it. I will have to communicate with them to find out,” Bramsen, who helped raise donations to refurbish the institution for the COVID-19 programme, said.

Mater Dei Hospital recently opened the COVID-19 isolation and treatment wing after constructing the facility, becoming the first private medical centre to deal with COVID-19 cases in Bulawayo.

In May, the hospital received surgical and nursing scrubs from Masca after an appeal was made for equipment.

On March 27, Masca appealed for fiscal support such as 100% tax exemptions for all donations to speed up renovations at Mater Dei and capacitation of the institution to handle COVID-19 cases.

Bramsen yesterday said according to what he knew, the hospital had completed the COVID-19 facility and was awaiting registration from Bulawayo City Health Department.

However, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Judith Ncube yesterday said Mater Dei Hospital was a private business and set its own charges.

“It’s private business. They are charging what they want. We do not have price control as a country, but I will give the relevant office this useful information,” she said.

Established by the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood in 1953, Mater Dei Hospital mobilised resources to boost the health centre’s ability to admit COVID-19 patients.

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