31 July 2009

{Being Processed Like a Piece of Meat}

Two months ago, hubby had a simple procedure done at the Morningside Medi-Clinic in Sandton, a posh area in Johannesburg, which left us with another case of shocking client service which has become a part of the daily lives of South Africans.

This is what the institution states on their website they stand for:

Morningside Medi-Clinic is a 230-bed private hospital, located in South Africa's economic hub of Sandton and has, over the years, received many local and international patients. A prominent group of medical specialists complements the excellent facilities and professional nursing staff offered by the hospital. Morningside Medi-Clinic is one of the hospitals in the Medi-Clinic group of private hospitals. Medi-Clinic is one of the largest private hospitals groups in Africa and currently owns over 40 private hospitals throughout South Africa and Namibia. Morningside Medi-Clinic offers local, national and international patients a broad spectrum of professional medical services, including: Professional consultations by highly qualified medical specialists in a wide range of medical disciplines within well-equipped consulting rooms Quality medical care in comfortable units staffed by highly trained, professional and compassionate nursing, medical and other personnel Well-equipped operating theatres staffed by highly trained and professional nursing, medical and other personnel Excellent visitor accommodation is available in the form of hotels, guest lodges and bed and breakfast establishments in the area. Continually striving to improve on its well-established reputation for affordable, specialised, professional health care in an environment of caring commitment, Morningside Medi-Clinic remains true to the Medi-Clinic group's motto of being committed to quality care.

... and this is the experience we had:

Dear Medi-Clinic Management,

I’m not sure to whom this Email should be addressed – please forward this Email the right person if addressee is not the correct recipient.

My experience at Mediclinic recently means that I will not consciously EVER decide to use a Mediclinic Hospital/Facilty again. Let me explain briefly:

(a) Exorbitant Charges

Firstly, for a simple (I thought?) Colonscopy and Gastroscopy diagnostic procedure, I was charged an exorbitant amount (a material portion of which Discovery did not pay for) in total if you add all charges from the Doctor, the anaesthethic charges, and the Hospital – i.e.

Doctor – R3510.30 Anaesthetic – R1632.00 Hospital – R2748.49 Total = R7890.79!!? This of course exclude the cost of the first diagnostic visit to the Specialist Doctor (in early May).

The charges however is a seperate issue although I remain puzzled, bemused, and shocked at the extent of the charges.

(b) Being Processed like a piece of meat

My experience at Mediclinic Morningside:

Roughly the end of the first week of May I saw my doctor there who recommended that I have a colonscopy and a gastroscopy in hospital. The same day I spend roughly 25 minutes at Pre-authorisation giving all sorts of pre-admission info to the admin person.

My procedure was on 28 May, and I arrived just before 10h00, having fasted for about 14 hours already, feeling a bit nervous and edgy. Without too much detail, the reception experience was disappointing. I was given a number and told to go and sit down. Reception was not busy at all. Roughly 30 minutes of waiting forced me to go and ask what was happening. Only then did the receptionist (apparently) realise that I was not attended to. Then I was shown to a reception check-in cubicle where a trainee attended to me. My perception was that firstly the pre-admission person entered incorrect and incomplete date for me and secondly that at check-in essentially I was “processed” (this was how I felt the way reception operated) from the start again – pre-admission meant nothing/ contributed nothing to smooth my dayprocedure checkin. I was then told “to walk down those stairs and left there and then right”!!? No-one escorted me to the ward. I was a bit confusing.

I arrived at the ward to find out I was placed in a very public day-ward. Upon pre-admission I requested a private room. Apparently it then transpired when I queried that day patients are not allocated private rooms. Well, Medi-clinic communication around this issue was very unclear/non-existent during pre-admission and upon check-in/admission on the day of the procedure.

The procedure was conducted, I checked out (no payment requested) and I went home. My wife’s comment (she escorted me to the hospital) about the “vibe” at Medi-Clinic Morningside: “This is a place where people go to die”.

Today (17 July) I received an account (dated 30 June) from Medi-Clinic. This is the first account that I received. AND it was a “Final Demand” for payment!!?

This account, the first one that I received, was dated 30 June 2009, roughly a month after my procedure. While I can understand strict credit policy – I’m more than somewhat taken aback by the aggressive and non-customer friendly language used in the Demand letter (“only” 30 days after my procedure and any perceived delay in me topping up what the med aid did not pay is in my view entirely because of sloppy administration at Medi-Clinic!!?). I received no account until this one, I received no admin dept telephone call, yet, only 30 days from procedure I get this absolutely atrociously worded letter (see PDF document). Please explain and please tell me I’m unreasonable in expecting, as a customer/client/patient of Medi-clinic, to be treated with more respect. Am I unreasonable?

See also enclosed the proof of payment (account paid today) – so, Medi-clinic, your strong-arm approach worked. The last bit in how you process the pieces of “meat” that happen to visit your facility at Morningside clinic has now been concluded.

To repeat – I will never use your – Medi-Clinic - facilities again if I can help it. And, I will relate this experience to friends, family, and others whenever the opportunity presents itself.

I should like to understand Medi-Clinic perspective on my experience. I should also like to understand from Discovery how such experiences are dealt with/followed-up by Discovery to ensure improvement in service delivery to Discovery clients.

Regards Conroy Fourie

... and this is the very unsatisfactory response to the above which is proof that the Morningside Medi-Clinic is processed driven and not 'people driven':

Dear Mr Fourie

Your mail below was forwarded to me and I would like to comment as follows:

a) The hospital fee as set out on your account was made up from the Ward Stay, the Theatre fee and items dispensed in both theatre and the ward. As far as the fees are concerned for the Anesthetist and the specialist, I would refrain form commenting as they do not fall directly under the hospital and have their respective professional bodies regulating them in their different capacities. Hence the separate accounts from the different providers. Nevertheless, I will also forward your concerns about these fees to your treating doctor for further comment should he wish to do so. b) I would like to apologize for the fact that we did not meet your expectations on admission and during your stay with us. However, your feedback will assist me in addressing the areas of concern and to improve on this.

The fact that you had to wait was lack of communication from our side as I see that the staff was trying to secure you a private room as per your request. As is indicated on the pre-admission document as well, all private rooms are subject to availability and carry a daily surcharge. We can not guarantee a private room.

All patients coming for procedures not requiring overnight stay are admitted to the day ward. Accounts have been sent to you following your discharge on both the 2nd and 18th of June 2009, prior to the Final Demand you are referring too.

No payment was requested on discharge due to the information at hand from your medical aid that stage.

The issue of you not being escorted to the ward personally and the waiting time on admission are certainly issues we will address to ensure that in future our patients do not encounter the same experience. We certainly do not want our patients to feel like they are being “processed”.

Thank you for having placed your concerns in writing and having forwarded it to us – it helps us to remain focused on what our patients need and rectify where we have failed in meting their expectations.

Kind regards

Jaco Erasmus Hospital Manager Morningside Medi-Clinic

We have subsequently responded to the above strongly stating our disappointment with the unsatisfactory response.

Apologies for boring you all with my moans and groans, but at least its of our chest. Wishing you all a wonderful relaxing weekend and may you all find some time to be creative.


  1. It is shocking. They charge more than a 5 star hotel and you get shoddy service. When you are concerned about your health you need to feel cared for. Good for you for making a complaint.

    Lekker naweek

  2. That is disgraceful darling, although some of our hospoitals "process" too they are the national health hospitals, I once went private and was treat like a queen, good on you to pput it into writing, if more people did this they would buck up their ideas qquickly!!! your poor hubby bless you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  3. oh this is shocking.....when the people who are supposed to care about your health are only interested in the £ signs and well done you for taking them to task...sorry I have been missing from your blog...don't know why but Mr Blogger refused to let me see all the fab creations...so I am off for a look see....hugs kath xxxx

  4. Totally appalling and don't you give up on it either hun, keep at them, it's just disgraceful!

  5. Service in this country is just non-existent. Good for Conroy for putting it in writing, but their response kind of brushes it off. It shouldn't be like that in the first place!! Hope he has recovered.

  6. Wow Desire,

    That is awful, but I'm glad that you and your husband are pursuing this whole experience. The return letter was just about as inconsiderate and cold as the original experience. I feel for you...

  7. Tien uit tien vir julle om te kla oor swak diens en dit nie net te los nie! Ek bedoel ook om briewe te skryf, maar kom selde sover! Maar dis ons plig! Doe so voort. Hopelik doen die kliniek nou iets daaroor en bly dit nie net by lee woorde nie!

  8. how awful Desire, good for you putting your complaint in writing. hugs rachxxx

  9. Yup you know I am also not a supporter of South African services...your experience is just so typical...as is their response. Nobody cares. My day procedure cost R25 000 at a Netcare hospital. I was also denied a private room so I kept my curtains drawn the whole time (at over 40 one has the right to privacy) & they kept opening them - saying they needed to see me - in other words too lazy to pop their heads in - but I told them my duaghter (Chelsea) was there to watch me so they needn't bother. For the huge fee lunch was a sandwich with the crusts cut off - so much so that it as half it's original size - in other words a piece of bread with a sprinkling of cheese & no accompaniments. Medical charges are totally exhorbitant in this country & I have come to expect no asistance, which is why I always take my own helper in. My op previous to this (at Milpark) they overdosed me on morphine, literally killing me as a result (I went into cardiac arrest) & had to be forcefully (with the jump pads on my chest) resuscitated - it was the worst night of my life and THEN they charged me for kindly bringing me back to life!!! Can you believe it...of course I had to fight - and I was not in a fit state to do it...I don't think anyone will pay any attention to your complaints because there are obviously not enough people like you & me, that actually have the guts to complain & tell others! Who knows where we will go now that Medicare & Netcare are both out of the equation LOL ;-D

  10. PS I didn't pay the resuscitation charges in the end - they took them off - tip - do NOT pay if you think it is unreasonable - because there is no way in hell they will refund you

  11. Just awful, I'm so sorry you had to go through it and well done for following it up. Kim

  12. Shocking service! Well done for taking the time to complain about it, most people don't bother and I do feel that hopefully it makes a difference when we air our views.

  13. Anonymous4:00 PM

    Hi to you all. My six cents worth is.. I was admitted to a Netcare hospital. On the admittance form there is a clause 10.1 and it clearly states that the hospital or staff or machinery is not responsible for anything whatsoever should anything whatso ever go wrong. Well for me it did go wrong. i was burnt by a member of hospital staff and now 'they' say there is no recourse as the admission form had been signed. Have a look at the form, you need a magnifying glass to read the small print. So what I can gather is that should they amputate the wrong foot or give you a castration as apposed to a vasectomy, its your tough bad luck. Can anyone explain please???


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