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Hospital ordered to pay couple Sh7m for holding babies over unpaid bill

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"In holding on to the minors as objects of lien to compel the petitioners to clear the outstanding bill, the respondent has demonstrated that it does not see the minors as human beings but rather as some objects of value that can be held as ransom for payment," said Kyalo.

The hospital had a different account of what happened. In its reply, it claimed that the minors who have now been discharged were underweight. It further stated that the parents knew the babies had to remain at the hospital for medical reasons and were discharged on March 25, 2021.

It argued that they have not committed to settling the bill. In addition, the hospital asserted that the two came to the hospital, and they promised to pay.

Committed to pay

At the same time, their insurance allegedly committed to pay Sh 200,000. Nairobi South Hospital said it did not charge the couple any extra money.

"The respondent constantly demanded and reminded the petitioners to settle the accruing charges but the petitioners continued to assure the hospital that the bill would be settled in full. At no time did the petitioners inform the hospital that they would not be in a position to settle the said bill. To demonstrate the lack of good faith and reasonableness on the part of the petitioners, they demanded they be allocated a more expensive private room which greatly added to the overall cost of hospitalization," the hospital administrator Stephen Ndulu replied.

Willingly sought

Ndulu argued that Kyalo and Adhiambo willingly sought to be treated at the private hospital and thus should have honoured their end of the bargain. He claimed that they would have gone to a public institution that would settle the bill if they are not able to raise the money.

"There was no emergency that would have stopped the first and second petitioners from seeking the services of government-owned medical facilities such as Kenyatta Hospital where there would have been an obligation on the part of the government to defray part of the cost... It does not sit well for dispensation of justice for the petitioners to seek treatment in a private hospital facility and expect to walk out without paying under the guise of constitutional protection and freedoms," said Ndulu.

He said the bill, as of 2021, stood at Sh3.1 million.