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Jakarta: Hospital holds patient for 2 weeks - not being able to pay

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Hospital holds patient for not being able to pay


Luh De Suryani , The Jakarta Post , Denpasar | Thu, 02/05/2009 4:56 PM | Bali




Reflecting on the sad state of healthcare in Bali, a hospital has been detaining a patient from leaving for not being able to pay her medical bills.

Rena Margalia, 19, has been prevented from leaving Bhakti Rahayu Hospital on Jl. Gatot Subroto, Denpasar, by hospital officials for the past two weeks because her husband, Dedi Mustain, 20, was unable to pay her surgical bills.

The Jakarta Post found out about the situation after Dedi reported the situation to the Bali branch of the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Bali).

"This case can be classified as a hostage situation because the hospital has taken away a person's right to freedom," Agung Dwi Astika, director of LBH Bali, said Wednesday.

"Even the police have to get permission before detaining someone, and this hospital is doing so without prior consent."

He said LBH Bali had met with the Bhakti Rahayu Hospital management to strike a deal to release Rena, but had failed.

Agung said the hospital rejected the offer of signing a debt agreement with the patient that stipulates criminal charges if the patient should fail to pay their bills.

Agung said the hospital would release Rena if they could provide a letter from the provincial government proving their financially-poor status. However, this was impossible as neither Dedi nor Rena have a Balinese ID because they just moved here one month ago from Probolinggo, East Java.

Agung said he would continue to talk with the management, though he plans to report the case to the police Thursday.

Rena, who is pregnant, was under psychological stress, Dedi said.

Dedi said the events began on Jan. 18 when his wife complained of a severe stomachache.

He brought her to Bhakti Rahayu Hospital, where doctors told him that his wife needed to be operated on immediately.

"They said my wife had an ovarian cyst and needed immediate surgery. They said I had to pay Rp 6 million (US$510). I didn't have that much money but I agreed because she was in so much pain," Dedi said.

Rena was allowed to go home two days after the surgery, but was prevented from leaving later by hospital officials after Dedi was unable to pay the final cost of Rp 11 million, an additional Rp 5 million for an appendix surgery.

"I was so shocked. I only had 5 million with me that I borrowed from so many people. They said my wife had to have an appendix surgery and that costs extra, but they never confirmed it with me," he said.

Dedi said he had tried to talk to the hospital's management, bringing along his neighbors who would vouch for him, but failed.

Bhakti Rahayu hospital management were unable to give any comment.

"It's true that we have a patient with such a case, but the hospital chief cannot give any comment yet," Ni Putu Susanti, Bhakti Rahayu Hospital staff member, said.

As for Rena, she said she could no longer withstand the hospital's treatment.

"I'm too scared to even leave my room because I'm afraid they would think that I was trying to escape. We want to pay our bills but we just want time because we don't have any family in Bali," she said in her room.

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