Patients now have to oil the hands of staff at Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital to access basic health services, while the insitution’s Out Patients Department (OPD) cashiers have turned into illegal forex dealers, The Manica Post has established.
With the exorbitant cost of private medical care which is beyond the reach of many, the relatively affordable alternative of being treated at the public institution is fast turning into a nightmare as long winding queues are now a common feature for those who cannot bribe their way into the front.
During a three-week long investigation, The Manica Post unearthed stinking acts of corruption and shocking carefree conduct at the provincial medical referral institution.
The heavily potholed tarmac running from the hospital’s entrance to the OPD seems to be a hint of the rot inside the hospital.
At the entrance, one is greeted by vendors, with some of them selling illicit brews.
When our news crew visited the hospital recently, some vendors at the gate were selling 175ml bottles of Teku-Teku brew for US0.50.
OPD cashiers were smooth-talking patients with US dollars to surrender the cash to them so that they could use their own bank cards to pay the hospital bills at the official bank rate.
The Manica Post understands that the US dollars are then offloaded on the parallel market, with the OPD forex dealers pocketing the difference.
After pretending that we were accompanying a patient last week, our crew handed over US$9 to a hospital staffer who then facilitated payment of a bill of $4 800 using a CBZ card.
This shows that the cashiers were paying the hospital using the official rate of 1:ZWL533.
However, according to the country’s statutes, payments that are received as USD are supposed to be receipted as such.
In addition to this, the OPD staff were dragging their feet.
After payment of the OPD fees and getting one’s hospital card stamped, patients would wait for hours before being attended to.
During our visit a fortnight ago, the first doctor to attend to patients drawn from the length and the breadth of Manicaland Province got into Consultation Room 9 at 10.40am.
ln the waiting bays, some temperamental nurses could be seen yelling instructions to patients.
However, some nurses could be seen accompanying some patients from OPD straight to the Doctors’ Consultation Room without observing the queues.
This service is allegedly offered to desperate patients in return for some kickbacks.
Our news crew then witnessed a jaundice patient making a payment of US$150 for a scan.
However, the money was not receipted.
The hospital staffer on duty said the scanning machine was working, but claimed that the hospital did not have chemicals required in the process, hence the US$150 payment for the staffer to ‘provide’ the said chemicals.
A chronic illness patient who cannot be named for fear of reprisal as he is a regular visitor at the hospital told The Manica Post that most nurses at the referral institution need to be whipped into line.
“Some of us have grown tired of complaining about the poor service we continue to receive at this hospital. The attitude of most nurses is very bad, they shout at patients with impunity.
“When you come here, expect to wait for hours before being attended to. It hurts. The hospital is situated in the centre of the provincial capital and one would expect top-notch services but the opposite is true,” he said.
After receiving questions from The Manica Post, Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital public relations officer, Sister Faustina Mutasa referred this reporter to the Medical Superintendent, Dr Dorcas Masanga-Mutede.
However, Dr Masanga-Mutede was not reachable.
Acting Provincial Medical Director, Dr Munyaradzi Mukuzunga was also pressing to get some answers on the issues raised. – Manica Post