By Ifeanyi Nwoko
It was an emotional day for many indigent patients at the Federal Medical Centre, Delta State as the wife of the state Governor, Dame Edith Okowa facilitated the payment of bills of 25 patients who were set for discharge but could not pay.
At a ceremony in Asaba, tagged “International Day of Charity”, Mrs Okowa raised a total of five million, one hundred thousand naira (N5.1 million) from good spirited Nigerians in Delta to pay the bills of the poor patients.
Some of the beneficiaries of the kind gesture could not hold back tears as they danced and jumped upon hearing their names on the list of those whose bills had been paid.
A number of the patients had been in the hospital for several moths receiving treatments and have remained in the hospital for more months after being discharged due to their inability to pay their bills.
Some of the patients were owing almost five hundred thousand Naira.
One of the beneficiaries, Mrs Promise Lazarus was a victim of domestic violence: she was attacked by her husband with a machete in February and was admitted to the Hospital for six months.
Upon being discharged, she was unable to pay her bill of N492,000 and had to remain in the hospital until the State First Lady came to her rescue with the charity programme.
Another beneficiary who wept uncontrollable, not only had her bill of N346, 800 paid but was handed to an associate of Dame Okowa as she had nowhere to go from the hospital.
Speaking at the event, Mrs Okowa told the patients and management of the hospital that all the money came from good spirited Nigerians and not from the state government.
She said that the gesture is part of the Charity Day which is commomerated on September 5th to reach out to the poor.
For her, the reach out to indigent patients in the hospital was a way to increase solidarity, social responsibility, volunteerism and public support.
Mr Okowa stressed that the event was also aimed at raising public awareness on the need for charity work, noting that being alive does not necessarily mean ‘we are the best but what we do today is what we will reap tomorrow.’
“It is not only the rich that should give help but every Nigerian should give because giving is a spirit that should be imbibed by all human beings.
The Delta First Lady said that she derived her passion to give from a passage in the Holy Bible: Matthew Chapter 25: 35 – 36 which said ‘I was hungry and ye gave me meat, I was thirsty and ye gave me drink, I was a stranger and ye took me in, naked and ye clothed me, I was in prison and ye came to me.”
She commended the management of the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, for treating patients first without demanding monies.
For the Hospital’s Medical Director, Dr. Victor Osiatuma, he commended Dame Okowa for her charity works across the state, and affecting the lives of many.
He recalled that Mrs Okowa had initiated many programmes to help the poor, including building sickle centres, free health programmes and her charity works.
“Last year, specifically, September 5, 2017, the governor’s wife also, through the pet project, 05 initiative, spent over N2.3million to bail out 13 patients who also could not pay their medical bills at the same hospital,” he said.
Some of the beneficiaries include: Chukwunyem Esther, N310, 850; Chukwudi Joshua, N135, 700; Okolie Ifeanyi, N439, 200; Ubong Kingsley, N307, 050 and Onwugbolu Sunday, N221, 000.
Others are; Oki John, 422, 000; Obi Jerry, N216, 350; Obianke Onyisi-Ken, N171; 850; Okoh Patrick, N597, 700 and Edhu Ejiro, N160, 850.
Responding, a beneficiaries Mrs. Promise Lazarus, expressed happiness over the gesture.
She thanked the governor’s wife, the people of Delta state and the management of the Federal Medical Centre for their magnanimity to her and other patients.