Detained hit-and-run accident patient in despair even as hospital denies claims
A 28- year-old patient has been detained at Radiant Hospital in Pangani since April 1, 2020, after he was hit by a matatu.
Dennis Omondi Bwire, an accountancy student at Kenya College of Accountancy, has been at the hospital for non-payment of bills incurred in the course of his stay and treatment at the facility.
The bill, during his close to four months stay at the hospital, has now accumulated to more than Sh1million.
“I got involved in an accident and sustained a knee fracture. I was taken into a county ambulance and rushed to a nearby hospital, which happened to be Radiant Hospital,” Bwire told Nairobi News.
He underwent knee surgery and was due for discharge on April 4, 2020. At that time the bill had accumulated to Sh 300,000.
“Everything about my treatment ended on April 4. Since then I have been here at the hospital, yet they have not dressed my wounds,” Bwire said.
After months in hospital, Bwire contacted Amnesty International for help and the human rights organisation took up his case, reaching out to the hospital on several occasions.
Amnesty International persuaded the hospital to reduce the bill to about Sh860,000, but it keeps going up because of bed charges.
On Wednesday Amnesty International demanded Bwire’s release with a payment plan, saying his detention is illegal, failure to which the organisation said it would institute legal action against the hospital.
“Continuing to detain Omondi for charges accrued after he was healthy enough to return home is causing him despair, disillusionment and depression,” Amnesty International said.
But Radiant Hospital Group CEO Salome Chiira, through an email to Nairobi News, denied claims that the patient has been detained at the hospital.
“As a matter of practice, we do not detain any patient at our facilities for any reason, including financial obligations. It is our policy to immediately discharge a patient as soon as the medical intervention that led to admission has been completed. We routinely enter into payment plans with our patients and have always found that agreement is reached with the cooperation of the patient,” Chiira said.
The hospital also noted that Bwire had made a partial payment.
“We confirm that the person in question was a patient at our facility and completed treatment successfully under care of our staff. We further confirm that at the point of discharge, the patient was unable to raise the funds to offset the bill, leading to discussions about a payment plan which is still going through the internal approval process,” the hospital said.
“We have established that in the course of the negotiations for a payment plan, discussions became acrimonious leading to a verbal exchange with one of our staff. We have apologised to the patient for this and the staff in question has been cautioned and counselled,” the hospital further said in the email.
But while speaking to Nairobi News, Bwire the hospital urged him to go to the bank and withdraw all his money to pay the bill. He claims he did so and paid the hospital Sh21,000, allegations the hospital did not respond to in their email to Nairobi News.
After he was unable to settle the huge bill, which was accumulating by Sh 8,000 per day, Bwire says the hospital stopped providing any care, including physiotherapy.
He claims the management of the facility sent two armed plainclothes officers to persuade him to accept liability for the entire bill and clear it.
Bwire also said he presented a plan to the hospital management. He committed to start paying the bill in instalments three months after his recovery and discharge.
In his payment plan, Bwire had told the hospital that he would by paying Sh25,000 per month. However, he said the hospital demanded he pays Sh500,000 before they could discharge him.
“I promised in writing to start paying Sh25,000 a month or whatever I could after my recovery because currently, I have nothing. They refused. They wanted an upfront of Sh500,000,” Bwire said.
In 2018, the Constitutional and Human Rights division of the High Court ruled that detention of patients by hospitals over unpaid bills is illegal.