The woman and the baby
A nursing mother identified as Blessing Bassey and her baby have been sleeping on the floor of one of the wards of Mojol Hospital, Church Street, in the Shasha area of Lagos State, for seven months for owing N95,000 hospital bill.
According to PUNCH Metro, it was gathered that the hospital management ordered nurses and doctors to ensure that Blessing and her daughter did not leave the hospital premises.
The PUNCH correspondent, during a visit to the hospital, observed the 27-year-old and her child sleeping on the floor.
Blessing, who bemoaned her fate, said efforts by her husband to raise the money had been abortive.
The Cross River State indigene explained that her husband, a mechanic, tried to do menial jobs to raise the funds, but failed.
While recalling how she got to the hospital, Blessing said she was unconscious on March 6, 2020, when she was rushed to a medical facility where she was initially registered.
She said, “I was seven months’ pregnant that time. I collapsed and was rushed to the hospital I registered with, but they did not have equipment for a caesarean section, so I was referred to Mojol Hospital. I was rushed to the hospital that same night and a CS was performed to save my life and the baby.
“Some days after the CS was done, I was told that our bill was N300,000; we paid N100,000 out of it.
“After paying, the owner of the hospital said the bill was N350,000. One of our neighbours came to beg her to reduce the money, and she reduced it to N250,000.
“We were able to pay a total of N155,000 and begged her to allow me to go and work so we could pay the balance by instalments, but she refused. I have been in the hospital since then.
“I had not spent one month on the hospital bed after the CS when I was told to move to the floor. I had to spread my wrapper on the floor so that my baby and I could sleep and that’s where we have been sleeping for the past seven months.
“I don’t have any money on me. I begged people that come to visit other patients for money to feed myself and the baby.”
The Administrative Officer of the hospital, Salami Akindayo, told PUNCH Metro that similar patients released with the hope of getting paid by instalments defaulted.
He said, “She was rushed to our hospital on emergency and we tried to save her life before even asking for money. After the delivery was done, she was unconscious for five days before eventually coming round. And when she was given the bill, the MD had to reduce it so that they could pay.
“We have released patients who promised to pay, but they never did. So, we decided that any patient that didn’t pay the hospital bill won’t be discharged. The hospital has written letters to some organisations to ask if they could assist her; we’re still waiting for their response. I have presented her matter to the Ohaneze group and they promised to get back to us.”
A rights activist, Esther Ogwu, who condemned the action of the hospital, stated that money was being contributed for Blessing’s release.
“What the hospital should have done was make her sign an undertaking to pay the balance,” she added.