MUM FACES DH340,000 HOS­PI­TAL BILL FOR BABY

Sally Cor­rea’s hus­band lost his job, their in­sur­ance was down­graded, then their daugh­ter was born pre­ma­turely

The National - News - - NEWS | EMIRATES - SHIREENA AL NOWAIS sal­nuwais@then­ational.ae

Sally Cor­rea’s preg­nancy was dif­fi­cult, and hav­ing to com­mute to work from Shar­jah to Dubai did not help.

“It was a very tough, and I had morn­ing sick­ness for five months,” she says.

Dur­ing the first six months, doc­tors in­formed her that she was at risk of los­ing the baby and re­quired surgery to avoid a pre­ma­ture birth. That was the same month her hus­band, Brian Fer­nan­des, lost his job.

“He was a waiter for seven years but then the com­pany shut the res­tau­rant, and Brian was fired.”

The 29-year-old In­dian un­der­went surgery on her cervix, but noth­ing pre­pared her for what was to come a month later.

“I be­gan hav­ing con­trac­tions and was bleed­ing heav­ily.”

Ms Cor­rea, who works in sales for a ship­ping com­pany, was told her in­sur­ance would cover her de­liv­ery bills at a spe­cific hos­pi­tal.

“When I ar­rived at the hos­pi­tal, I dis­cov­ered that on the same day they had changed my pol­icy from a cat­e­gory A to B, which doesn’t in­clude de­liv­ery costs. The hos­pi­tal re­fused to let me in.”

In se­vere pain and bleed­ing heav­ily, Ms Cor­rea was told by her com­pany’s HR depart­ment to go to an­other hos­pi­tal.

“That hos­pi­tal also re­fused me be­cause of my pol­icy. I was in so much pain and scared. I was sure I was los­ing my baby,” she says.

She rushed to a third hos­pi­tal, but it also re­fused to ad­mit her claim­ing that it did not have a neona­tal in­ten­sive care unit.

“Thank­fully the HR depart­ment was very help­ful and told us to go to yet an­other hos­pi­tal, which had agreed to ad­mit me. I was im­me­di­ately taken to the emer­gency room and had a C-sec­tion.”

On July 16, Sa­maira was born, two months pre­ma­ture. She was placed in an in­ten­sive care unit and re­quired a ven­ti­la­tor be­cause her lungs had not fully de­vel­oped.

“It breaks my heart to see all the tubes at­tached to her tiny body,” her mother says. Sa­maira is still in in­ten­sive care and her mother com­mutes every day from Shar­jah to the hos­pi­tal in Bur Dubai.

The com­mute takes her any­where be­tween three and four hours. “Sa­maira is bet­ter and can breathe alone for longer pe­ri­ods of time,” she says. Doc­tors have not told her when her baby will be re­leased. “It could be be­tween a week to a month,” Ms Cor­rea says.

While the fam­ily looks for­ward to the day they can take their first-born home, they are wor­ried they will be jailed and de­ported im­me­di­ately af­ter. As of Thurs­day, Sa­maira’s stay in in­ten­sive care has cost Dh340,000. Ms Cor­rea earns about Dh5,000 per month.

“There is no way we can af­ford this,” she says. The in­sur­ance com­pany also raised her new­born daugh­ter’s in­sur­ance pre­mium from Dh3,000 to Dh50,000.

The cou­ple’s fam­ily are all in In­dia. “Our fam­i­lies are not rich. They are very wor­ried but they can’t do any­thing to help us.”

Af­ter ask­ing for as­sis­tance from her friends, she was able to raise Dh5,000. “I am touched by their gen­eros­ity, but it doesn’t help us at all. I’ve given it back to them.”

Ms Cor­rea says the hos­pi­tal has been putting pres­sure on them. “They told me to take out a loan to pay them. How can I bor­row money that I can never pay back?”

Hisham Al Zahrani, man­ager of Zakat and So­cial Ser­vices at Dar Al Ber said: “Ms Cor­rea and Mr Fer­nan­des need your help, with­out which they will never be able to set­tle this enor­mous bill.”

Satish Ku­mar for The Na­tional

Sally Cor­rea and her hus­band Brian Fer­nan­des can­not pay the fees for their daugh­ter, who has been in in­ten­sive care

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