GWERU Provincial Hospital has finally been granted court orders to attach discharged patients’ property over unpaid bills.
BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
Last week, the hospital gave the debtors a 24-hour ultimatum to settle their bills or risk having their property attached in an effort to recover over $500 000 owed in outstanding bills.
Early this year, the Midlands provincial referral hospital engaged a private debt collector, Well Cash Debt Collectors, to track patients who had left the hospital without paying.
Though the hospital’s medical superintendent Fabian Mashingaidze could not be reached for comment, text messages sent to the debtors showed that the debt collectors had obtained court orders.
“We have obtained legal orders to attach your property for failing to pay your Gweru Provincial Hospital bill.
“This is your final notice to come to Gweru Provincial Hospital to pay your bill,” read part of a text message sent to one of the hospital’s debtors yesterday.
Most patients have been failing to settle their debts, let alone buy medication prescribed to them at public health institutions, due to the prevailing economic climate obtaining in the country.
The hospital, like many other government health institutions, lacks adequate medical supplies with patients buying most of the drugs, while those admitted fork out money for bedding only.
In 2013, Mashingaidze said it was not in the interest of the institution to engage debt collectors, but pointed out that patients were not forthcoming with payment plans when they were reminded to settle their bills.
In March this year, Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo advertised for services of a debt collector after it was also choked with debt.