Debits and Credits of the Nat’l Referral Hospital

By
Updated: February 10, 2016

Yesterday we brought you the interview with the Director of Finance, Norman Augustine Jr of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City.  In that interview, Augustine spoke of the rise in prices for the clinic consultations as well as the services of physiotherapy.  The increases are sharp particularly for the majority of the hospital’s patients who are mostly the low to middle income individuals.  According to Augustine, the increases are necessary for them to be able to sustain their expenses and equipment repairs which are not covered by the subvention given by the Government of Belize.

Norman Augustine JrNORMAN AUGUSTINE JR

“They do provide quite a bit of medication, we don’t make any money off them and what we need is; you’ve heard of our CT scan and that machine being down costs us a lot of money. We lost $160,000 in the short amount of time that machine was down. We need money to maintain this place, we need money to keep it running, we need money to pay our electricity. We need money to ensure that our equipment  are running at a certain level. Whenever these machines are done we utilize our local neighbor pool to do what we can to fix it. When we cannot fix it we have to import specialized individuals to fix it and it cost money.”

According to Augustine, a study has been done on payment patterns of patients which have been very weak as many refuse to pay the hospital after using their services.

NORMAN AUGUSTINE JR

“A study of six years showed that patients when they are issued a bill only 40% have been collected which increased the overall contribution by Government from 80% to 90%. So even though we are billing at a certain level the patient refuses to pay their bills; they only pay 40%. We have restructured our collection system, we have a soft approach, it’s not aggressive and we have launched the program in maternity. We have found that while the guy, the father of the baby may have $75 dollars in his pocket and he wanted to pay something else with it he recognized the birth of his child as being more important so he would take out that $75 and pay it toward the bill and then they would make arrangements to continue making payments; so educating the public of the fact that they are going to be billed and that it’s important to pay the bill.”

The Maternity Ward at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital is currently being looked at where the administration have found that pregnant women and their partners do not plan well financially when it comes to covering the cost of delivery at the hospital.

NORMAN AUGUSTINE JR

“We have our exercises at maternity right now whereby in interviewing patients when they come in to deliver a baby we would find that the gentleman will say that he has the money set aside but that it’s for something else; the mother looking nice and everything but the issue that we are having and what we are asking is for us, we recognize that you deserve the latest phone and the likes, all we are asking is to look at your health, look down the road for your needs. If you know you’re pregnant, put $25 dollars aside every month so that by the time you are ready to deliver your baby you would have some money set aside. It’s a matter of priority as well and it’s educating the people that it’s important to assist the KHMH and the government, the government is doing their part we want people to do their part as well by contributing just a little bit. The government will still be taking the biggest part of the bill, put a little aside. I for example may want to go and do something expensive and do a trip to Cancun but where are my priorities?  If I have an accident  I need to have a little money that KHMH will be here to take care of me.”

For the services rendered in the delivery of a child, the cost would average to about five or six hundred dollars, much of that, however goes unpaid.  Augustine says that residents need to keep in mind that they will, at some point, return to the facility for care and thus the importance for users to pay monies owed.

NORMAN AUGUSTINE JR

“On average it will cost between $400 to $500 with the delivery, the materials that we need to use etc. For the most part I will be honest with you many females come in here with the expectation to deliver a baby but with no money to make the payment and this is a reality. We will all come back to KHMH, our children will come back to KHMH. We need to ensure that we do our part. KHMH is here to provide the equipment, we provide the personnel, we have up to 68 doctors and over 250 nurses. Let us do our part, it’s just a small contribution.”

While there have been some negative flack aimed at KHMH, Augustine says it is very important for Belizeans to know that there have been far more good done at the facility.

NORMAN AUGUSTINE JR

2016 marks twenty one years since the KHMH has been established.