Gweru Residents Blast Gweru General Hospital Over Debt Collectors

By Mark Mhukayesango


GWERU-October 26, 2015-Residents here have come out guns blazing over Gweru General
Hospital Medical superintendent, Fabian Mashingaidze’s decision to
contract a debt collector to attach defaulting patients’ property
saying the hospital was inconsiderate of biting economic condition and
massive job losses that has left residents unable to afford medical

Residents Association leaders who spoke to Radio VOP expressed dismay
over how the hospital was treating discharged patients as the
district’s major referral centre seeks to recover $500 000 owed in

The hospital has thus been granted a court order which empowers the
medical institution to contract Well cash Debt Collectors, a private
debt collector to attach property.

Gweru Residents Assocition (GRA) chairperson Cornelius Seliphiwe said
the hospital should have welcome payment plans since most residents
are redundant and cannot afford to pay medical bills.

“Many of our members who are on the verge of losing personal property
do not have any source of income whatsoever because they are not
employed. I think the hospital should have at least worked on a
payment plan with the residents apart from such forceful action,”
Seliphiwe told Radio VOP.

“Some residents have bills less than $1000 so surely those should be
an exception,” he said.

The hospital is said to be on an offensive treating each of its
debtors the same.

Gweru United Residents Association (GURA) chairperson Reward Mhuri
said his association will engage the hospital over the issue.

“We don’t condemn the hospital at all because at law it is right, but
giving residents three hours ultimatum’s is unfair because it does not
give the debtor an opportunity to raise the money,” said Mhuri.

“So we are engaging hospital management and the ministry of health on
possible ways of coming up with a solution. We think it is prudent to
give residents more time to pay, say six months,” he added.

Among other consequences of bad debtors, Gweru General Hospital has
been failing to have enough medical supplies in stock , according to
Mashingaidze who added that the exercise was meant to restore sanity
to the hospital which is mandated to service other district hospitals.

“We have been failing to supply our patients with enough medicine as
we often run out of stock. We have a lot of hospital facilities that
have dilapidated so if we could recover this money, we will restore
our institution to the premier medical care centre that it used to
be,” said Mashingaidze in an interview with Radio VOP.

Mashingaidze said bad debtors have become rife as the institution had
not put stringent measure on offering medical care before payment.

He says most of the patients on medical aid were not honouring their
end of the bargain as the companies they subscribe to have been
failing to pay on time.

“We are losing thousands of dollars to patients who when they are
discharged are not honest enough to pay their hospital bills. This
practice is not done in any other part of the world, people should be
responsible for their own health care,” fumed Mashingaidze.

Mashingaidze’s administration sent warning messages to their debtors
last week, advising them that failure to pay would result in property

“This is your last and  final warning to pay your January 2014
hospital bill in three hours without fail.

This is not the first time the institution has sent warnings to its
debtors as it did the same in 2013 after the medical centre was
saddled with a huge debt which almost choked service provision.

With the economy continuing on a downward spiral, Zimbabweans have
continued to struggle to afford the basics , with many dying in their
homes due to lack of hospital funds.

Given Chikoore, a local business man said many families had fallen on
hard times and were unable to pay hospital dues, thus government
should come up with mechanisms of subsidising health care.

“We know government does not have money , but people are dying because
they lack health care. Why not come up with a scheme to help
underprivileged families? he asked.

Vidah Mahamba, a pharmacist said many patients are referred to
pharmacies following admission and it would be unfair to attach
property because the hospital hardly has any medical supplies.

“Most of our clients are from General Hospital which means the
hospital does not have medicine. So why should they hunt down
creditors yet they don’t have medicine to treat them. Where is the
huge bill coming from,” she said.