Bianca Leboho Herald Reporter
The Department of Social Welfare owes Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals over $3 million in unpaid hospital bills, prompting the institution to deny patients access to treatment, disadvantaging hundreds who cannot afford medical costs, The Herald has learnt.
This came to light on Wednesday when two boys from Shamva district were denied corrective surgery after they were involved in a grenade blast accident last week.
The two boys -Carbon Mapisaunga (17) and Never Chikanga (15) – together with their colleagues, Admittance Mapisaunga (11) (who is now late) and Stanley Chimhepo, who escaped with minor injuries, encountered grenades whilst playing at Maxston Farm in Shamva. Admittance died on the spot while Stanley is nursing injuries back home in Shamva.
Carbon and Never were, however, referred to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals for further care with a letter from the department proving that they could not afford to pay bills.
Carbon’s mother, Ms Abigail Gonamombe, said the hospital only admitted her son and provided him with initial care but refused to provide further care such as a corrective surgery, demanding that she pays cash upfront amounting to $600.
She said Never also got initial treatment and the hospital now requires $776 for it to proceed with further care.
“The two boys were hospitalised on August 28 and 29 respectively. The doctor attending to them said they both need to be operated on because Never suffered a serious leg and arm fracture whilst Carbon’s leg and backside were badly affected by the grenade,” she said.
Ms Gonamombe said the hospital refused to perform the necessary surgery on the two boys despite being shown the assisted treatment order from Social Welfare.
Narrating his ordeal, Never said he was still trying to come to terms with what happened, particularly the death of Admittance.
“We did not know what they were, so we tried to unscrew them. Admittance took two of the grenades and started beating them against each other. That is when the explosion occurred and I witnessed his body being blown apart. I was immediately thrown into the air because I was sitting close to him,” Never said.
The Mapisaunga boys’ uncle, Mr Peter Tabviroona, said Zimbabwe National Army engineers came to collect the other two grenades three days after the accident.
“We have called the engineers and have requested that they come and do another search for such war hazards but they told us that unless it was an ordered operation, they could not search the area.
“They only told us to ensure that our children do not play in the bush,” said Mr Tabviroona.
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals chief executive Mr Thomas Zigora assured The Herald that the boys would receive treatment.
He, however, said it was becoming increasingly difficult for the hospital to cope with the huge numbers of patients on Social Welfare who needed treatment as the department was failing to settle its bills. He said the department owes the hospital over US$3 million in unpaid bills.
Mr Zigora also said since the beginning of the year, the hospital has not received any money from Treasury, further compromising their ability to provide care effectively to all its patients.
“In order to treat patients under Social Welfare, we have to folk out money meant for the treatment of other patients which means they in turn won’t receive the adequate treatment they require.
“We will treat Social Welfare patients with severe cases such as the case of these two boys but it goes without saying that other patients who are meeting their bills will be greatly disadvantaged,” said Mr Zigora.