Mater Dei seeks to in­crease user fees

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Than­deka Moyo Chron­i­cle Re­porter

THE Catholic-run Mater Dei Hospi­tal in Bu­l­awayo has asked the Gov­ern­ment for per­mis­sion to in­crease user fees by 10 per­cent.

The health in­sti­tu­tion has in­di­cated it wants to gen­er­ate rev­enue amid re­ports that med­i­cal aid so­ci­eties are not pay­ing the hospi­tal. Pre­sent­ing their re­quest to the Min­is­ter of Health and Child Care, David Parireny­atwa yes­ter­day, the board’s di­rec­tor of fi­nance, Mr Gavin Stephens, said the in­crease was likely to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion at the hospi­tal.

“We are ask­ing the Min­is­ter to ap­prove our re­quest to in­crease tar­iffs and fees by 10 per­cent,” he said.

In re­sponse, Min­is­ter Parireny­atwa asked the board to put their re­quest in writ­ing and sub­mit a de­tailed report on how they got to 10 per­cent.

“We need to look at the re­quest holis­ti­cally bear­ing in mind that there will be con­se­quences. You stated that your cash flow prob­lems are linked to the med­i­cal in­sur­ance busi­ness which is fail­ing due to the eco­nomic chal­lenges fac­ing ev­ery­one,” he said.

“How­ever, I do not see how they will man­age to pay up tar­iffs if they in­crease by 10 per­cent con­sid­er­ing that they are fail­ing clear fees which are lower than what you are ask­ing for.”

Min­is­ter Parireny­atwa said he would not look at the pro­posal in iso­la­tion as it could be used by other in­sti­tu­tions and stakeholders to hike their fees. Mr Stephens said Mater Dei faces sev­eral pe­cu­liar chal­lenges. “I think our prob­lems stem from dif­fer­ent ar­eas and if you go to the bot­tom of it, our oc­cu­pancy fig­ures are not as good as we would like them to be.

“We have not been able to ad­mit pa­tients if their med­i­cal aid com­pa­nies have out­stand­ing debts and that has im­pacted on us neg­a­tively. Med­i­cal Aid So­ci­eties make it very dif­fi­cult for us to op­er­ate as most of them are fail­ing clear their ar­rears.”

He said in­creas­ing oc­cu­pancy would bring about a smooth flow of op­er­a­tions which badly needs to re­place old equip­men­tat the old hospi­tal. “Med­i­cal costs on our side have grown since 2010 and the CPI (Con­sumer Price In­dex) to over 160 per­cent and if we don’t take preventative ac­tion we will fail to op­er­ate,” said Mr Stephens.

“There comes a time when we must look at the rev­enue and the tar­iffs. I think though we’re run­ning well, we don’t have the con­fi­dence in our fu­ture as an in­sti­tu­tion.”

A (CPI) measures changes in the price level of a mar­ket bas­ket of con­sumer goods and ser­vices pur­chased by house­holds.

Mater Dei board chair­per­son Dr Eric Co­hen ap­plauded Min­is­ter Parireny­atwa for tak­ing time to visit the hospi­tal.

The hospi­tal charges at least $110 for a bed daily. — @ thamamoe

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