Monrovia – Nancy Nathan is a jobless mother of five. Her husband does masonry to cater to the family, but contracts hardly come by these days.
“The little money he had, he used it to pay the children school fees."
"The little amount has got was what I took with me to the hospital,” Nancy told FrontPageAfrica.
She gave birth to her fifth child, a beautiful baby girl, at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center – Liberia’s biggest referral hospital, which is run by the government.
Nancy went through a successful C-Section on April 1, 2017.
She, however, remained in the hospital because she was unable to settle her hospital bill which summed up to almost 9,000 Liberian dollars.
“My brother, I gave birth since the first [of April], but they were holding me there because I couldn't pay the bills.”
“My man came and paid some but he couldn’t pay all, so they were keeping me there. It wasn’t only me. We were almost 15 there.”
“Some people came and freed some of the girls there.
Some good people have been coming to free some of the women who couldn’t pay their bills,” she said.
Sitting with her baby on her laps in the offices of FrontPageAfrica, Nancy could not hold back her joy.
“That’s y’all baby here, you people need to name her. Y’all please give her name,” she said with a smiling face.
Nancy was released from the Hospital on April 13, through the instrumentality of FrontPageAfrica with cost of her bills being covered through the compassion of some Liberians both at home and in the Americas who were touched by the FPA’s first publication captioned: “Young Mothers Stranded At JFK Memorial Hospital Over Unsettled Bills”.
Through the coordinating efforts of Mr. J. Jerry Wion, a journalist and political commentator based in Washington D.C., and Cllr. Frederick A. B. Jarweh, over US$1,000 was sent to FrontPageAfrica for the release of the women.
Defense Minister Brownie Samukai gave an envelope of US$500 for the same purpose.
Mr. Wion assured FrontPageAfrica that more support is being galvanized for the release of any woman who is unable to settle their bills.
“I just want to tell the people that sent the money thank you. They really did well for me. We were plenty there – those of us that were owing.
"Some people still there. The ward I was on is now empt, but some women are still in the other rooms".
"But they are not letting us talk with strangers again. When you are talking with your own people now, they will be standing around. But I really want to tell those people thank you,” she said.
With the cost of her bills fully covered, Nancy also received US$50.00 to buy the baby’s necessities.
FrontPageAfrica is also endeavoring to ascertain the number of mothers on the ward who cannot afford to cover the cost of their delivery so as to have them released.
Meanwhile, the administration of JFK Medical Center has denied holding mothers who cannot afford their medical bills on the ward, describing FPA’s publication, as having sinister motive which intended to deride public confidence and subsequently jeopardize the integrity of the Medical Center.
According to the JFK release, this paper deliberately reported on misconceptions, outright lies and terrible ignorance.
JFK Release: “The Management clarifies in stronger term that at no time has the Medical Center detained any of the approximately five hundred persons that access comprehensive medical care at its Center daily.
The management would like to admonish the paper that JFK as a professional healthcare provider embraces patient cares and as such it will never be in the business of reprimanding or rejecting them.
Patients who cannot meet up with their obligation, the social services department of the JFK Medical Center work along with such patient until they are taken home.
“Such case is a component of our waiver/gratis given to the public with specific emphasis to women and children.
Furthermore, to deal with the issues of teenage pregnancy, breastfeeding program and caring for the newborn and other programs are being put in place and usually require an extended period of stay in order for the wellbeing of the babies.
Such program may be misunderstood by the uninformed and the good intentions misinterpreted.”
However, contrary to the official statement of the JFK Medical Center, some of the victims who spoke directly with FrontPageAfrica’s reporter, Bettie Johnson-Mbayo, said they have been on the ward for several weeks.
FrontPageAfrica still has the audio recordings and original pictures taken in its possession.
Before Nancy was freed, she called the FPA Reporters several times asking - “When are you coming to free me from here now?”
Financial aid started pouring in upon FPA’s first publication.
Two mothers identified only as Winifred and Princess were released through the intervention of Mr. Alfred Togba, publisher of the People’s Newspaper and an unnamed Good Samaritan.
Togba got in contact with FPA News Desk Chief Lennart Dodoo upon the publication, informing him of a philanthropist who wanted to settle the bills of some of the women.
The Chief Financial Officer at the hospital told FPA Ms. Johnson-Mbayo that the hospital could not accept money from here as payment for any of the ladies unless it was processed through the hospital’s donor program.
However, no assurance was given that the women who were indebted to the hospital were going to be released.