Hospital demands US$100/week from mental patients

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File picture of a person counting USD $100 notes

BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
NGOMAHURU Psychiatric Hospital in Masvingo is reportedly demanding over US$100 per week from mental patients.

But acting medical superintendent Themba Nyoni refuted the allegations, saying psychiatric services were rendered for free in the country.

“Psychiatric care is free. No one pays at Ngomahuru. Ask whoever told you what that money is for. Even the psychiatrists cannot charge such figures for their services. Maybe there are some who are doing that — not me. Patients are free to consult a private doctor who can go and see them, and that is when they pay.

“I know where that is coming from. There are some people here who are disgruntled by the return to normal working hours. They used to abscond, come late for work or knock off early. When I told them to respect the working hours, they claimed that they were incapacitated.”

A source, however, told NewsDay that Nyoni was being economic with the truth since patients who booked at the mental institution coming from as far as Harare and were paying between US$140 and US$200 for admission at Ngomahuru.

“Things are not well at all here. Nyoni has a spirit of aggrandisement. He is trying by all means to fight nurses and gain total control over them, yet we are supposed to work at par with him. Matrons are now under his siege (sic),” the source said.

“It seems he never read the Mental Health Act because he is making mental patients pay him between US$140 and US$200 per week for admission, something which is against the Act. Patients come from Harare and get admitted here. As nurses we are against that because we render our services for free, and we know that no payment is needed to admit mental patients. We are guided by the Mental Health Act.

Other sources at the institution lamented lack of funding from government alleging that patients admitted to Ngomahuru were not offered long-term rehabilitation.

“Why do they come here when it is said that Harare Psychiatric Unit is a central hospital? The referral system itself has been compromised. It’s supposed to go upwards to the central hospital, not vice-versa. He (Nyoni) actually recommends people to bring patients to Ngomahuru, yet there is no early rehabilitative measure for these patients.”

Efforts to get a comment from Masvingo provincial medical director Amadeus Shamu were fruitless.

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