KAMPALA – Lawyers have given the management of St Francis’ Hospital, Nsambya a five-day ultimatum to release a mother detained at the facility for over three months over uncleared medical bills.
Caroline Nassaka, who lost her unborn child during a surgical operation, has been in detention for more than three months since March 24, 2020, after she failed to clear a medical bill of Shs 2.2 million.
A team of lawyers from Newmark Advocates is demanding for Nassaka’s immediate release. The lawyers led by Francis Harimwomugasho argue that the hospital’s actions have subjected Nassaka to mental torture especially by staying in the same place in which she lost her baby.
Harimwomugasho is concerned that the woman has been prevented against her will from leaving the hospital premises and has not been allowed to see the light of the day from the time she was admitted.
The lawyers allege that Nassaka’s mother has tried to negotiate with the hospital administration to allow them to leave the hospital and search for multiple sources of finances to settle the bill, but her request and appeal was in vain.
They say that Nsambya hospital has never been a gazetted detention centre and has no right to curtail anyone’s freedom of movement. They further described the actions of the hospital as barbaric, and a clear violation of the freedom of liberty and movement.
They have now given the hospital an ultimatum of five days to release their client from what they call illegal detention, and compensate her a sum of Shs 200 million for emotional distress and mental anguish suffered over the past three months. Anything to the contrary will lead to litigation, they warned.
Nsambya hospital administrator Sister Mary Cleophas Kizito declined to comment about the specific case on account that she needed time to consult. She, however, denied the allegations that the hospital detains patients who fail to clear bills.
Nassaka was a victim of rape and had no husband or partner to look up to. Her mother sold off her livestock but only managed to pay Shs 1,750,000 of the bills, leaving an outstanding balance of Shs 2,182,300. The hospital has since detained her in Regina Ward until the entire bill, is cleared. She was also not allowed to bury the child she lost during the operation.
Her sister, identified as Pricilla Nassaka and the mother said that ‘Caroline is traumatised.’
“I confirm that Caroline Nasaka is in the hospital according to the receipts. She has been there for three months. She’d been a surgical case, she has healed it just that emotionally she’s downcast, she stigmatized for lack of better words because of how the people who come to lobby for their money treat them and the words they tell them. And then remember because she was discharged but then again she stayed in hospital after having lost a child. So that trauma is something she has not dealt with.” said Priscilla.