Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who owns Imam Al-Hujjah Hospital?

The hospital is a charity project under the umbrella of the Development and Relief Foundation, a public-benefit NGO. The hospital doesn’t follow any religious, government, political, or economic entity. It’s mainly funded by the fees of the healthcare services it provides to patients.

2. Is the hospital free?

Our and the funder’s dream is to make the hospital free some day, however, this dream is currently unattainable, due to the operating costs of the hospital, and the absence of a patron.

3. What are the operational costs of the hospital?

Operational costs are the financial expenses associated with the sustainability, maintenance, and operation of the hospital’s daily business.

For further clarification, read below:

Expenses Monthly Amount (IQD) Annual Amount (IQD)

Electricity, water, fuel, oils 38,000,000 456,000,000

Cleaning, sterilization 42,000,000 504,000,000

Leaves of absence, maintenance, services 45,000,0000 540,000,000

               Total                                                                                                     125,000,000                                   1,500,000,000       

Disclaimer!

These expenses do not include medical, nursing, and technical staff wages, not to mention the cost of personal protection during the Corona pandemic, which is currently 80,000,000 IQDs per month.

4. What is “charity” work?

It is a nonprofit work with great philanthropic value performed by an individual, group, or organization in order to support and develop the lives of citizens in a humanitarian manner. Imam Al-Hujjah Hospital provides medical services with international health standards for simple fees to cover treatment costs and the salaries of employees and doctors.

5. How was the hospital established?

His Eminence the founder has been dreaming of establishing the hospital since he set foot in Iraq in 2003 after 32 years of exile and displacement. He vowed to Allah that he will spare no effort in establishing a charity hospital where high-quality medical services are provided at simple fees, in line with human dignity and sacredness. Allah sent to his Eminence, the founder, a group of believing men and women from around the world, to help him complete this blessed project.

6. There are those who say that the hospital was built with the oil, sweat, and efforts of the poor of Iraq, and today the poor have no share in this hospital. What do you say to those people?

Benefactors from outside and inside Iraq donated to this blessed project. Most of them were from neighboring countries in the Gulf region and Iran, in addition to the believers in North America, Europe, and the rest of the world. Not to mention the benefactors from inside Iraq. None of them took possession of Iraq’s oil or stole from the poor. Also, There are at least 15,000 patients who have benefited from our discounted or free services. The hospital records their names and addresses for donors to check.

7. Can you tell us what were the intentions of the donors for this project?

Our medical services are in line with human dignity and moral values and with internationally recognized medical standards. The cost of medical care is as low as possible, with a focus on helping the underserved. 

8. What have you offered to the underserved?

First: Low prices for medical services compared to non-governmental hospitals in Karbala and neighboring cities.

Second: Discounts offered to people with limited income, which during the past three years exceeded 400 million dinars.

Third: Free medical examinations at the outpatient clinics every Tuesday, in addition to the free-of-charge examinations at the emergency department for two hours every day of the year.

Fourth: “Saqi Karbala” interest-free loans program. This program provides amounts ranging from 1 million to 3 million dinars without interest. The amount is paid within 10 months. The number of beneficiaries so far has reached 3000 people.

Fifth: The hospital’s sponsoring foundation distributes in-kind aid and food baskets to underserved families and people with limited income.

Sixth: The sponsoring foundation bears the costs of treating orphans and widows who are officially registered at the foundation.

9. Have you made sure that these beneficiaries are really poor?

Beneficiaries fill out a form containing several questions, and this form is certified by the imam of the mosque in the patient’s neighborhood and the neighborhood’s representative, and then the medical service fees are reduced.

10. Do people with limited income receive the same discount for the same medical service?

Each beneficiary is evaluated after authenticating the information provided by him, and there is a priority for beneficiaries who visit our surgeons, as the cost of their operations is less than the cost of operations performed by referring surgeons, so the hospital patients receive a bigger discount than those who were referred by doctors from outside the hospital.

11. Are the prices of surgeries fixed, or do they change according to the type of patient?

There are three prices for a specific surgery:

a- The subsidized price for surgeries is collected from patients when they visit our inpatient clinics, and the fee is shared by both the hospital and the surgeon.

b- When a patient visits a surgeon in his private clinic and then comes to our surgical theater, the hospital share remains fixed here as stated in option (a), and the rest goes to the surgeon who brought the patient from his private clinic.

c- As for patients with limited income, The hospital deducts from its share in favor of the patient, while the surgeon’s share remains the same.

12. You claim that hospital prices are lower than the rest of the non-governmental health centers in the city, but there are health centers in the city that offer some of their services at lower prices, such as the prices of laboratory tests or ultrasound scans, so what's your answer?

It is logical to compare the prices of health services on the basis of quality and medical efficiency as well. Neglecting the quality and efficiency will not be fair.

The prices of the Imam Al-Hujjah hospital are the lowest ever in the holy city of Karbala and its suburbs. The cost of a urine test at our hospital is 20 thousand dinars and it’s the same in private laboratories. The cost of ultrasound in the hospital is 25 thousand dinars, and in most private clinics it costs 15 thousand dinars.

But this does not take into consideration the quality and efficiency. The aforementioned lab test is done using the Vitek compact II device from the French company Biomerieux, and the solution that is used in the examination costs the hospital 19,000 dinars, so if the same device and solution are used in other laboratories, at a lower price, then the patient has the right to object.

The same applies to ultrasound. Our radiology doctors are brilliant, with a lot of scientific knowledge and expertise, and they receive in their private clinics more sums than they receive from the hospital, yet they perform their moral duty to examine patients, believing in the “charity” principle of the hospital.

There is another reason for the price of ultrasound, which is that the radiologist is the one who does the examination, not the technician, and he follows up on the reports of the CT scan, MRI and fluoroscopy tests, and since ultrasound is available in most places, unlike MRI and CT scans, the administration decided to slightly increase the price of ultrasound in order to reduce the influx of patients, and doctors can devote themselves to the rest of the radiology units.

13. You always repeat the terms “quality” and “international standards” in health services and use them as an excuse for the prices that some think are high, what's the story behind that?

The hospital administration is striving to make quality standards comparable to those followed in international and regional medical centers, and there are unremitting efforts to obtain accreditation from the ISO organization, as well as the Joint Commission International (JCI). The hospital follows the strict policies of the mentioned organizations, especially in the fields of “infection control”, “patient safety” and “building and structure”, And this level of quality is not available for free, as there is a high price for maintaining it.

14. Do you not have volunteers working to reduce the financial cost on patients?

All hospital employees receive wages for their work, and the only volunteer is our sponsor, the Development and Relief Foundation. It’s worth mentioning that there are some physicians who live outside Iraq and provide free services to patients when they visit the city of Karbala.

15. How do you hire your physicians?

The credentials committee, which consists of medical professionals from inside and outside the country, evaluate and hire physicians, and no one is exempt from this rule.

16. How do you convince patients to choose Imam Al-Hujjah Hospital over other health centers?

The hospital has several advantages that the patients can choose us for, they include:

a- Medical expertise and professionalism
b- Outstanding physicians
c- Merciful treatment of patients
d- Comfortable and aesthetically pleasing building
e- Simple fees

17. Does the hospital receive government support?

The hospital does not request or receive any government support, and we’re obligated to pay the water and electricity bills and all other fees. It’s no secret that the hospital suffers from some bureaucratic procedures adopted by government institutions. For example, the hospital suffers from delays in releasing medical equipment and health supplies at the country’s ports, and sometimes these materials and medical supplies are confiscated under various pretexts. The hospital also suffers from delays in granting entry visas to specialists and surgeons from outside the country.

18. Why did you name this project after Imam Al-Hujjah (AS)?

His Eminence the Founder chose this blessed name in the honor of Imam Mehdi (AS), and so that Allah bestows a full and speedy recovery on our patients and blesses our efforts.

19. Why do people target you then? Why do they accuse you falsely?

We not only welcome constructive criticism, but we have been, and still are, advocates of it. On the walls of the hospital are the words “Be brave and honest, report negative cases”. This encourages people not to be discreet and not to cover up mistakes, but rather to report them with confidence.

Also, the hospital is unique in organizing periodic meetings between the patients and the administration, also between the heads of departments. We also send questionnaires to patients in which we ask them to express their opinions and evaluate our work. Many of them have pointed out certain problems, and the administration was quick to change the policies and procedures aimed at improving quality and appeasing our dear patients.

20. Why do you prevent food from being brought into inpatient wards, and why are refrigerators not placed in patient rooms?

The goal of the hospital is to treat patients as quickly as possible and reduce obstacles in their recovery. The biggest obstacle to the patient’s recovery in a hospital is the presence of germs and infections, which might weaken their immune system. Food is one of the ways for a patient to catch an infection, especially if left for a long time without cleaning and sterilization.

In order to reduce this problem, the hospital has adhered to international health and safety standards by removing refrigerators from patients’ rooms and allowing limited types and amounts of food to enter the inpatient room so that it does not turn into a means of transmission of infection to patients.

21. Why must the patient's second escort pay an extra amount to stay with him/her?

At Imam Al-Hujjah Hospital, the role of the escort is limited to entertaining the patient and providing him with psychological comfort. It is not the duty of the escort to provide any assistance to the patient, but rather it is the duty of the service and nursing staff in the hospital.

The stay of this companion is included in the price of the room for the patient and no additional amount is paid, but some patients would like to have another companion with them, or even several if they are allowed to do so, and here lies the danger. If each patient in the ward wants to bring additional companions, the ward will become crowded and this will cause a lot of inconvenience to the rest of the patients. A person’s freedom and comfort end when they intersect with the freedom and comfort of others. But instead of forbidding the patient from bringing an extra escort, we give him the choice to pay an additional amount and he has the freedom to choose.

Note that at the present time, there are strict instructions by the Ministry of Health to limit the number of escorts to just one, in order to prevent the spread of the new Corona epidemic.

22. What's the reason for the additional insurance, whether in the emergency unit, surgical theater or in inpatient wards?

The emergency unit, inpatient wards, and surgical theaters are where medical services are varied and continuous according to the patient’s needs and what the doctor prescribes. These services are immediate and not expected in advance, and the additional insurances aim to cover these services. For example, the price that the patient pays for an operation covers the surgery, the implants, and the inpatient stay, but it does not cover laboratory tests before and after the surgery, anesthesia drugs, treatments, and additional days of stay in the hospital. In order to cover all of these costs, the hospital collects a certain amount of insurance that will be returned to the patient if he’s discharged without additional care.

23. Do you receive Corona patients?

Imam Al-Hujjah Hospital stands out among the rest of the non-governmental health centers in Karbala, because since the epidemic reached the country, the hospital has received Corona patients in the emergency unit, radiology department, and outpatient clinics.

However, receiving infectees at the inpatient wards is only permitted in government hospitals and health centers, as ordered by the Ministry of Health. Government hospitals are equipped with kits and devices for PCR and rapid tests, in addition to Corona treatments.

Those infected with the novel virus are quarantined in completely isolated wards, with the proper air conditioning and ventilation, which requires a special facility that is prepared and with experienced staff, equipped with personal protection gear, not to mention the special devices for laboratory tests, medicines, and treatments in order to provide medical services correctly and appropriately for Corona patients.

And here, we must admit that the hospital doesn’t have the necessary requirements to fulfill its responsibility toward the community.

24. Why doesn't the hospital have some medical specialties/subspecialties?

This is due to the following reasons :

a- The objective of this project was to establish a general charity hospital in which an integrated health system would be provided for patients with a focus on the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine and Surgery. Everything related to cardiology has been included in the hospital’s health plan.

However, some specialties are not directly related to what we mentioned, so they were excluded to save the efforts, human resources, and finances required for these specialties.

b- Some medical services are not yet available due to the hospital not being fully equipped with the necessary medical equipment, because of their expensive prices. With the availability of philanthropists and donors, the hospital plans to purchase this medical equipment.

Thus, the project founders decided to divide the operation of the hospital into gradual stages to reduce the burden of high costs on one hand and avoid errors resulting from the sudden operation of all departments on the other hand.

c- The difficulty of providing specialists and consultants in some subspecialties, either due to the high financial cost, which is directly reflected on the patients, considering that the project is self-financed, or there are legal and logistical obstacles that prevent the presence of specialists on the days and times requested by the hospital administration, so these specializations remain vacant.

25. Some say that your media is weak and does not rise to the level of services you provide, what's your answer?

There are several reasons, such as:

a- Because of the high financial costs, the hospital is not fully outfitted with the necessary equipment to open all the medical departments and units, and it’s not wise to make extensive advertisements about the hospital when there are some medical departments that are not yet ready to receive patients.

b- There is a difference between advertising and publicity on the one hand and influential media on the other. The first requires media professionals and technicians and huge sums of money to promote campaigns and market the hospital to the public, and this is not one of the directions and priorities of His Eminence the Founder. He does not want to spend the donations and the fees collected from patients on this type of media.

The second is influential media, and it relies on building trust and strengthening the close relations between the hospital and the community, through quality services, compassionate treatment, and transparency with patients.