The Management of Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki has denied a report published in a National Newspaper detailing how the hospital detained 22 nursing mothers over their inability to pay their hospital bills.
In a press release by the Public Relations Officer of the hospital, Mr Oji Uzodinma, the hospital frowned at the report which he described as falsehood.
According to the release, “The Management of AE-FUTHA has frowned and condemned in its entirety, the attitude of some journalists who allow themselves to be allegedly used to run down either an individual or an Institution purely for selfish reasons.
“This condemnation, came as a result of a report on the hospital by a Correspondent in Ebonyi state, titled Dingy Teaching Hospital where Nursing Mothers, Newborn Babies are Abandoned in Ebonyi.
“Much as our hospital is not a Charity Home, where people come for treatment and go without payment, neither has the Federal Government asked us to embark on free medical services.
“The reporter shot himself on the leg, when he confessed that he has pity on the hospital management who are doing their best and who according to him, attend to patients first without asking for money.
“In his words, they make sure they save life first before any other thing. They ask for money after having rendered medical service. The grouse of the reporter that those who have not paid for services rendered to them after discharge, decides to stay back and pay the hospital their debt, stayed where they think was better for them, and in his mind, such people should be given quarters and given food also, if possible, asked to go without payment, for the hospital to answer a good name.
“Let it be known that whoever was coming to the hospital for treatment should arm himself/herself well not to be thinking the Federal Government has instructed hospitals to take charge of those who fail to pay their hospital bills.”
The hospital also denied having a designated building for discharged patients who are unable to pay their hospital bills, stating that the state Governor, Engr Dave Umahi had recently cleared the medical bills of some of the patients who could not afford their bills.
“However, in AE-FUTHA, we do not have a building, meant specifically for those who were discharged without paying their bills much-more having one that would accommodate 22 women or more according to the report and even those with new born babies.
“It was mischievous for the reporter to say that many children died while their mothers were awaiting payment of their bills. This is in bad faith because no such thing happened.
“We want to make it clear, that up to date, no single parent has complained to the hospital management that he lost his child while waiting for bills payment.
“Where the reporter got all those stories and the pictures of 22 women who posed for him for photograph was not to our knowledge, because our hospital security would have alerted us that such incident was taking place.
“We find it incomprehensible to see 22 women posing for a group photograph which is a security threat in a hospital without our knowledge. Though we are believing such photographs were never taken in our hospital.
“And we also wonder where 22 women and others who are without kitchen, toilet and bath, pass their stool, cook and also bath, since there is no such provision for discharged persons in the hospital.
“Our hospital is so clean that no human faeces are heaped somewhere, showing that 22 women and many others there use toilet, kitchen and bathing place inside the premises.
“Let it be known that the State Governor, Engr. Dave Umahi came not long ago to settle bills of many who could not pay their bills which he has done from time to time. Another Honorable member also came to settle bills of some people from his constituency.
“They saw the people they were paying for and never said they were in a very terrible environment as the reporter would want the unsuspecting public to believe.
“Let it be known also by all that the hospital has a policy that those who give birth to triplets, quadruplets and cannot pay their bills are asked to go without paying a farthing, as the hospitals own contribution to the family.
“However, our candid advise is that the reporter should be called to order. Much as we do not object to any criticism or reportage that is the fact as it were.”
The press statement also went further to detail the achievements of the Chief Medical Director of the Hospital, Dr Emeka Ogah stating that he turned around the fortunes of the hospital within a short period.
“Within a short period of the tenure of the current CMD Dr. Emeka Onwe Ogah, the Board and the hospital management have achieved some of these feat.
“The attraction of a modern Lassa-fever Centre that serves the entre South East Zone and other neighboring states, leading to an Award to the hospital by NCDC as the most Improved Laboratory on Lassa fever Diagnosis in Nigeria.
“The Doctors without Boarder known as Medicines Sans Frontier have put up two gigantic observation referral bay both at AE-FUTHA 1 & 2. The donation of Emergency Response Ambulance by the Federal Ministry of Health.
“A mega Theatre complex, an Auditorium and an e-Library Complex. A Lecture Hall block , Intensive Care Unit, High tech Laboratory Equipments, the Institute of Child Care and an Ultra Modern New Born Unit.
“Others are, a dialysis unit, which has the best R.O System, and we charge the least amount of money among other hospitals that conduct such treatment without any subsidy.
“The CMD attracted an Ecological project from the Federal Government which is on-going at the AE-FUTHA II. The construction of an ultra modern Physiotherapy Complex at AE-FUTHA II is also on-going, there is also an on-going construction of Accident and Emergency Complex by Ebonyi State Government.
“In the area of Human Capital Development, the hospital established a school of Nursing & Midwifery. A doctor in the hospital, came tops to win the Nigerian Community Medicine Award, it also recorded the highest pass rate in the Post Graduate Examination by Resident Doctors, while the Ophthalmology Department succeeded where others failed by restoring sight to a patient through multiple eye surgeries. These are just to mention but a few,” the statement concluded.