Poor couple refused service at hospital

Feb. 28, 2013 at 10:39 AM
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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A Cambodian man says a hospital in Phnom Penh refused to help his wife deliver her stillborn baby because they were too poor.

Reun Lao brought his wife Yi Srey Ny to the National Maternal and Child Health Center Monday morning after she went into labor, Phnom Penh Post reported.

Lao said he and his wife waited for a midwife for 16 hours.

"We waited until midnight. My wife was in so much pain. She needed to deliver, but no midwife came," Lao said.

Staff at the hospital told Lao that it would cost about $70 for a hospital bed and midwife services, but the couple had only $5.

"The hospital confirmed that my baby was already dead in my wife's belly, but at least my baby's body must be delivered from her mother," Lao said.

Eventually, the 61-year-old mother of another patient in a nearby bed, helped deliver the baby.

"My mother is an old person, but she took pity on the woman who slept nearby my bed, who was in so much pain. So when no midwife came, my mother helped to deliver the child," said Reau Mom, whose mother helped deliver Ny's baby.

Most employees at the hospital told the Phnom Penh Post that they were not allowed to comment on the incident, but one nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "It's a problem. Patients sometimes accuse our staff of neglect, but I don't know why, because our doctors and nurses always take care of the families who come here."

Hospitals in Cambodia are legally required to provide healthcare whether patients are able to pay or not, the Phnom Penh Post said. However, several hospitals come under fire in recent months for turning away patients who didn't have enough money to pay for services.

Lao and Ny buried the body of their daughter Wednesday.

"I am so sorry to see my baby die. Now my wife is in poor health. I buried my dead baby's body near our house so her memory would stay in our minds," he said.

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