St Patrick’s Mission Hospital in Hwange has come under spotlight after management at the Catholic run health institution allegedly detained a still born for a month in the mortuary, demanding that the distraught parents raise mortuary fees.
It was only after the father of the child gave his refrigerator to the hospital that the body was released for burial.
At the centre of the storm is the hospital’s health service administrator Sister Rumbidzai Maverutse, with staff and community members served by the 72-bed Catholic-run health institution not happy with her management style.
Furthermore, despite the fact that the institution is part of the Civil Protection Unit, ambulances from St Patrick’s Hospital do not attend to any cases without payment upfront, sources said.
Workers told Sunday News that this was not an isolated incident.
“Even villagers now know her. Even in the latest incident who knows the value of the refrigerator but what she tells people is that if your relative dies you pay US$5 per day.
The head doctor and the pharmacist have tried to seek audience with the Bishop to tell him what is happening here,” said a worker at the institution.Sunday News caught up with the father of the still born that was detained at the institution.
Mr Thomas Mukuli said he had found his child’s body “dumped in a tray” when he went to the hospital for a visit after hearing that his wife had suffered some complications during child birth.
“My wife was admitted to the institution when she was supposed to give birth. I was called and told that the baby was stillborn. When I got there, I was told that my wife had been transferred to Bulawayo because she couldn’t even talk.
“But what shocked me the most was that when I arrived, they had not put the body in the mortuary but they left it on a tray. I then asked them to at least put the body in the mortuary so I could rush to see my wife in Bulawayo.
“At the time, they said there was no charge for that. When I returned from Bulawayo and asked for the body, the sister said I should pay because the body was in the mortuary for days and electricity was not for free,” he said.
Mr Mukuli said Sister Maverutse only agreed to release the body after he offered to compensate the hospital with his refrigerator.
“They asked me to pay US$450 for everything including my wife’s medication. They subtracted US$200 and I was asked to pay the rest but I did not have money at the time.
“So, I waited and the body was in the mortuary for at least a month.I was then asked if I had any livestock and I said I did, but my rural home was a bit too far. So, I was told to list all the property I had and they chose the fridge. I actually switched it off for five days waiting for them to come and get it. I switched it back on but three days later they came to take it. When they took my fridge, it still had ice.They used an ambulance to come and get it. I only learnt later, as a person who does not know the law, that expecting mothers are not supposed to pay,” he said.
A general hand at the hospital, Mr Joseph Ncube, said at one point he went for 18 months without pay as Sister Maverutse froze her pay for unspecified reasons. When he was eventually paid, he said, the money had lost its value.
“All in all, I went for one and half years without getting paid because she had frozen my salary. At first, she did some consultations and when she asked around, senior doctors told her that she could not unilaterally freeze my salary.She went and asked the provincial leadership about the same issue and they also told her the same thing. Yet she still went ahead and suspended my pay and this went on for 18 months.In the end, I was compensated for the months I had gone without pay and I was eventually given my money. The only problem is that it had lost value because of inflation and I had accumulated debts that put me in a difficult position. I’m still at St Patrick’s but I’m seeking a transfer away from here,” he said.
A former senior worker at the hospital (name withheld) reportedly quit as they clashed with Sister Maverutse.
“I eventually left the institution because it was impossible to work with her,” the former worker said.
The worker also alleged that community members were shocked by the behaviour of Sister Maverutse, a Catholic nun, as she had run the institution with an iron fist ever since she joined in 2013.
“The community has not benefitted from the things they were meant to benefit from in a long time. I get calls from people in the community who say they are not getting any aid even from donors anymore. Someone has to explain what is going on at the hospital.”
Sister Maverutse refused to comment when Sunday News got in touch with her.
“I have no comment. I do not want to talk about these things,” she said before slamming down the phone.