Baby can’t go home until SR400,000 hospital bill is settled

The parents of a baby boy born prematurely almost three months ago have been unable to take him home because they cannot settle the SR400,000 bill their hospital has demanded they pay.

Baby can’t go home until SR400,000 hospital bill is settled

 


Donna Corpin

Saudi Gazette


 


JEDDAH — The parents of a baby boy born prematurely almost three months ago have been unable to take him home because they cannot settle the SR400,000 bill their hospital has demanded they pay.



Dexter Mateo, 31, did not expect that when he rushed his wife Candy, 30, to the nearest hospital on March 12, she would give birth to baby Eshan so soon because she was only six months along at the time.



Neither did they expect that they would end up saddled with an enormous debt as they had planned for her to give birth at a “lower-class” hospital in Riyadh.



Candy was supposed to go back to the Philippines last December, but decided to stay and give birth in the Kingdom when she found out she was pregnant.



They were expecting a delicate pregnancy because she was diabetic.



Mateo was prepared to pay the SR10,000 fine before she could obtain an exit visa.



What they did not anticipate was that Candy would give birth that day and that the charges would amount to a minimum of SR8,000 a day.



Mateo brought Candy to a private hospital only because he had no choice, as she was already in extreme pain and her waters had broken.



Upon the doctor's suggestion, Mateo attempted to have the baby transferred to a government hospital the day after Eshan was born.



However, the government hospitals he went to refused to accept a transferee patient because Mateo was not a Saudi.



Mateo told Saudi Gazette: “They insisted that the hospital where the baby was born make an official request for the transfer but the hospital where my wife delivered has not taken any action to that end and we were still trying to find a solution.



“In despair, we have given up the possibility of a transfer. Instead, our focus is on solving our problem with the hospital bill, which is swelling by the day.”



Mateo was able to pay for the delivery so Candy could be discharged from the hospital.



However, the baby had to be incubated for two months and required intensive, but expensive, medical attention due to his premature birth.



Doctors also told Mateo the baby now needs to undergo laser treatments so he would not go blind.



As the current hospital is not sufficiently equipped for such a treatment, it asked Mateo to look for a specialist eye hospital to which the baby could be transferred.



The initial bill after 13 days stood at around SR130,000 but even then, Mateo could not have afforded to pay the bill in full.



Mateo, who hails from Sarangani province in southern Philippines, has been working as an office assistant for an event organizer in Riyadh for eight years and receives SR4,875 a month.



Mateo said he approached the Emir's office in Riyadh last month to ask for assistance with his case.



The office referred him to the Ministry of Health, which “unfortunately rejected my documents (because) I am not a Saudi national,” Mateo said. He said he wrote to various Saudi government agencies but is yet to hear back from them.



He had also written to the Office of the President in Manila, which referred his case to the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA). He was then referred to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh and had tried to follow up on his case at the embassy. He is still awaiting a response from these channels.



On June 1, the hospital told him he had a week to settle the outstanding dues. “Otherwise they will hand over my case to their legal department and I am not aware what the legal department will do,” Mateo said.



It has been more than a week since and Mateo does not know what awaits him. He is now appealing for any assistance.



Mateo said readers can get in touch with him by calling (00966) 535787425 or emailing dexter.mateo@yahoo.com or candysvillanueva@yahoo.com.