Sunday, September 18, 2011

“Fees Increment at JFK is a Rumor”

CMO McDonald Clarifies Dr. Wvannie Scott-McDonald, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Memorial Medical Center last Thursday September 15, 2011, termed media reports about an increment in medical services fees at the hospital as rumors, because the institution discharges several persons on what she called uncompensated care. Addressing a team of journalists at the JFK’s administrative building, Dr. McDonald described reports that “management of the hospital has sharply increased the fee for women wanting to give birth from L$500 to US$50.00 or L$3,500.00” as mere speculations that cannot be proven. CMO McDonald said the institution, since 2006, has added more free services rather than fees, as the administration can attest to. She highlighted increased social services, training of early young teens to care for their infants and healthcare for children under five and something she termed as ‘uncompensated care’ as services added over the past few years in fulfillment of the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. Dr. McDonald disclosed that the Government of Liberia has spent about US$3 million on uncompensated care alone. She explained that when she earlier took over the institution, people were saying the hospital was dirty and medical services were inadequate, but today they are saying the fees are too high; “they will always find something to say” she added. The Chief Medical Officer also used the medium to express dissatisfaction over the disposal of corpses around the hospital’s facility at night by unknown individuals. She said corpses found around the hospital’s facility in recent times were individuals that were not admitted at the hospital, but have led to the public speculating that the hospital was polluting the environment by dumping corpses at the beach-end of 20th Street. “Sometimes we see these bodies around the facility but we have to contact the police because it’s a homicide that could be termed a murder if the police are not informed before the body is removed,” she said. Dr. McDonald pointed out that unclaimed corpses at the hospital are disposed of in a respectable way in consonance with the law that such bodies should be reported to the police and a notice is sent out for 72 hours before burial. She said about 25 dead bodies remain at the hospital unclaimed because some families don’t turn up for them after the individuals die. The CMO said the hospital reports all those who die in the hospital and what was the cause of their death so the institution could not just go about dumping dead bodies in places that will bring harm to other people. “We live in a society where we have respect for our dead. This is shown by us carrying flowers to their graves on Decoration Day. Why should people dump their relatives exposed body on the street around the hospital,” she said. In her closing remarks Dr. McDonald called on the public to refrain from the act of dumping bodies around the hospital which is not good for the people living around the vicinity. She ruled out the rumor of increased death rate of 3 to 5 patients dying daily as a result of less attention allegedly paid to patients, because the patients, do not have enough cash to pay as a result of the “new increased fees.”

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