Expectant parents are urged to be prepared

DUBAI // The founder of a support group for families in Dubai whose babies have been born prematurely has urged all expectant parents to ensure medical care not bills is their only concern when their child is born. All parents-to-be in Dubai should check insurance policies and enquire about a hospital’s neonatal care facilities when […]

DUBAI // The founder of a support group for families in Dubai whose babies have been born prematurely has urged all expectant parents to ensure medical care not bills is their only concern when their child is born.

All parents-to-be in Dubai should check insurance policies and enquire about a hospital’s neonatal care facilities when they find out they are expecting, said Joanne Hanson-Halliwell, founder of the support group Small and Mighty Babies.

“Having a correct insurance in place is paramount because you don’t know if you will have a premature baby, how sick the baby may be,” she said.

Parents should be aware of a Dubai Health Authority regulation that makes it compulsory for a minimum Dh150,000 cover for children born before 36 weeks to be included in the mandatory basic health insurance provided by employer.

“We need to get the message out there because it is a big message, but it has not trickled down to people who need it,” Ms Hanson-Halliwell said.

Hospitals can be asked to offer discount rates, said Dr Sherif Mahmoud, head of health care at Axa Insurance, particularly in tragic cases where a child dies.

“In such cases we see what services can be waived to substantially reduce the amount,” Dr Mahmoud said. “We ask the hospital to offer our discounted rates instead of billing them on a cash rate. Insurance companies can adjudicate on their client’s behalf.”

However, taking care of things such as support for the grieving parents and naming a baby who has passed away is where the focus needs to be, said Ms Hanson-Halliwell.

The Tindugan family’s child Timothy, born at 27 weeks, was in neonatal intensive care for two months. He was not officially named because his identification papers were not processed, with the parents’ passports held by the hospital because their work visas had expired and medical fees were outstanding.

The hospital said the parents submitted their passports willingly. Their documents have since been returned and birth registration documents completed.

“Your baby exists and if somebody denies you this, it must be the most painful, most horrific thing to happen,” said Ms Hanson-Halliwell whose son George was born at 30 weeks, three years ago. “By giving your baby a name, you are celebrating that baby, giving the baby the voice it deserves. It’s not just a piece of paper. For families, the name makes society acknowledge they have had the baby.”

Losing a child is devastating, said Sandrine Piedras who lost her premature baby Lucia in November, just two months after she was born.

“There are no words to describe it because it should not happen,” said Ms Piedras, who established a “Survivor’s Guide in Dubai’s NICU” with online links.

“When a child loses a parent he is orphaned. You are a widow when you lose your husband, but you cannot describe losing a child.

“The first few days you won’t be able to move or speak. It is unbearable. She may go into withdrawal and will not want to go out. And if they have bills on top of that, it’s a nightmare.”

rtalwar@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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