A Nakuru family has finally buried its patriarch, whose body had been detained at a hospital mortuary for seven months over a Sh2.5 million medical bill.
Eutychus Elvis Mwaura was admitted to War Memorial Hospital in October 2017 after he was diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes.
After a long battle with the illnesses, he died on July 14, last year. He was aged 66.
The father of four left behind a huge medical bill that kept rising due to the daily mortuary charges.
With no steady sources of income, his two sons and two daughters were unable to raise the money to have the body of their father released.
“We had no means of raising that amount of money after his death. The medical bill stood at Sh2.1 million and rose to Sh2.5 million by last week. The mortuary charges were Sh1,000 per day during the first month and Sh1,500 in subsequent months,” said Grace Wairimu, one of Mwaura’s daughters.
Prior to their father’s death, the siblings had disposed of their property to cater for their mother’s treatment. She, however, succumbed to cancer in 2014.
And when their father was admitted to hospital, his NHIF account had long been inactive as the treatment of his wife had drained him financially.
“We tried to appeal to the hospital to release my father’s body but they maintained that the amount owed must first be paid in full,” said Wairimu.
Through various avenues, the family managed to raise Sh177,000. The amount, however, was only a drop in the ocean.
Later, The Standard highlighted the plight of the family, attracting the attention of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).
The commission earlier this year wrote a letter to the hospital seeking to have the body released. The commission argued that the detention of the body was not only unconstitutional but also a breach of human rights.
After negotiations with the hospital, the family was finally allowed to bury the man.
They paid the hospital Sh100,000.
“We are glad that the hospital management agreed to release the body of our father. We paid the little we had. The remainder of what we had raised was spent on the burial arrangements,” said Wairimu.
The hospital’s matron Patriciah Mosare said the management had reached an agreement to waive the remainder of the bill.
Try their best
“There are extreme situations, where we release patients and bodies without charging anything. However, when a family is in a position to clear the bill, they should try their best. Hospitals have a right to be paid for services rendered to remain in operation,” she said.
Koome Miriti, a senior officer at KNCHR, said cases of patients and bodies being detained by hospitals were on the rise, especially in the major towns.