Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2021. 4:33 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: Prime Minister John Briceño has pledged to conduct a personal investigation into the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital’s (KHMH) continued charge for the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on patients during their stay in the public hospital, which has racked up on bills to the tune of thousands of dollars some patients say they are simply unable to pay.
“This is the first that I am hearing about this situation where persons are allegedly racking up bills for PPEs used by medical staff at the KHMH to care for them, to the tune of $200 each. If this is indeed so, I would want to say that it is something that needs addressing, particularly if the PPEs cost much less than what is being charged to patients. I will do my own investigation into this, and if Breaking Belize News is right, it is something that I can commit to bringing up with the Minister of Health and Wellness at the next meeting of the Cabinet,” Briceno said.
When BBN broke the story, several patients had reached out to complain about the high cost of PPEs. Our newsroom spoke with the Minister of Health and Wellness Michel Chebat, who responded this week by saying only that “Supplies issued to patients are not free.” As a statutory body, the KHMHA is autonomous in its decision-making and has all authority over its operations including fees charged to patients.
BBN has learned that PPE’s are being sold in-country for much less than $200 a unit, however, the KHMHA has taken a position that it will not comment at this time on how it arrived at that figure. The hospital authority said last week that it will be reviewing the PPE charge due to the number of complaints; however, to date, there is no update on when or if patients can expect a reduction in their bills.
One patient from Punta Gorda reached out to say that the KHMH gave her a bill for $6,627 оf whісh thе ѕеrvісе сhаrgе fоr РРЕ alone was a whopping $4,800. Despite having the option to work out a payment plan, the patient stresses that her family simply cannot afford such a high bill.
“The KHMH is there to help Belizean citizens, especially those that do not have access to private hospitals. I am sure that we can do better, and we must do better and we will do better,” Briceno told BBN.
We’ll continue following this story.
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