Fred Itua, Abuja
In June, 2018, a middle-aged woman was rushed to Gwarimpa General Hospital, located at the heart of Life Camp, an elite neighbourhood in Abuja. She just had a miscarriage and was bleeding. She needed to be attended to immediately by doctors and nurses who were on duty.
Sadly, she was left waiting for over four hours in pains and her pool of blood. Doctors and nurses who were on duty carried on as if she didn’t matter. For them, so long as she was still breathing, her case wasn’t critical.
When her strength couldn’t carry her anymore, she caved in and collapsed. Her angry brother, James Momoh who watched helplessly how life was being edged out of his sister, had to make a call to the ‘powers that be’. That call saved his sister’s life. Like a mad cow, doctors and nurses who hitherto placed no premium on her life, suddenly got on their feet.
From the highest to the least person, everyone got busy and in no time, life was restored to the woman. She was lucky to have had a brother who could pull some strings and in no time, she found help. How about hundreds of others who are not so connected?
Momoh recalled: “At the General Hospital in Life-camp (Gwarinpa), my sister had a miscarriage around 8:00a.m in 2018. She was at the hospital by 9:00a.m. No one attended to her for hours. Around 1:00p.m, she was asked to do a scan. The guys doing the scan in the hospital said they don’t work on Sundays!
“She had to use a private facility in Gwarinpa. When she came back with the results, no one still attended to her until around 4:00p.m when she collapsed, reason being that she had been bleeding since that 8:00a.m when she had the miscarriage! I had to call some officials of the FCT Administration who immediately called the CMD to do the needful.
“When the CMD came back to the hospital, instead of immediately attending to my sister, he was busy trying to know “who called the FCT minister”. They finally attended to her, and as a way of getting back at us, they prescribed dozens of drugs, many of which she did not need.”
Across every General Hospital, located in the six Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the stories are the same. Patients recount their unpalatable ordeal in the hands of medical personnel, who are trained to show empathy.
Sunday Sun, determined to unearth the ugly trend, visited Kubwa General Hospital, located in Phase 4 Area of the satellite town. From overcrowded wards to lack of drugs and other essential things, the picture of the hospital leaves little to be desired.
There are arguments for and against the notion that general hospitals which are secondary health facilities, are too crowded because primary healthcare centres are ill-equipped to attend to rural dwellers who suffer from minor illnesses. Hence, they besiege general hospitals, whose facilities are already overstretched.
William Shakespeare noted in Julius Caesar, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
The above sums up life in Kubwa General Hospital. Last week, when our correspondent visited the facility, a woman who was in labour was rushed in by her troubled husband and her elder sister. Unlike other serious hospitals, the facility has no labour room. Women in labour are left to parade the corridors in the full glare of other patients and visitors.
She had been in labour since 5:00a.m. As at the time our correspondent visited, it was already late in the evening. Her husband and sister were seen shouting and screaming. They complained bitterly how relative had been left unattended to by nurses for several hours.
The distraught sister who spoke to Sunday Sun and identified herself as Amaka, narrated: “I’m a biologist and I have an idea how these things work. My sister had her antenatal in this same Kubwa General Hospital. So, they know her. But we were shocked when we came here since 5:00a.m. They just kept us somewhere and the nurses and a doctor I saw on duty didn’t care.
“I was shocked when nurses told me they didn’t have anything in the hospital and that I should go outside and get drugs and other things for my sister. I didn’t understand. The hospital didn’t have something as little as plaster needed to fix a drip. I was also asked to go outside and get that.
“At about 6:00p.m, they told me that the pharmacist had closed for the day and that those who wanted to get drugs should visit any pharmacy outside the hospital. I was angry and asked them if that’s how pharmacists in the hospital leave work and patients. I was told to either get the drugs or take my sister elsewhere.”
Her sister eventually gave birth at about 12:15a.m the following day. She was discharged by the hospital at 8:00a.m. That’s about six hours after delivery. Their excuse was hinged on the fact that there were no hospital beds to accommodate her sister and the new baby. The lady could barely walk when she hired a tricycle which took them home.
While at the hospital, our correspondent noticed something- almost every pregnant woman was told that she would give birth through Cesarean Section. Those who couldn’t win the arguments and had to succumb to the wishes of the medical personnel, had to buy the necessary tools needed to carry out the operation.
The hospital claimed that they didn’t have. But as soon as you paid the nurses money, the materials they alleged were unavailable, suddenly surfaced. A security personnel at the hospital who spoke to Sunday Sun in confidence, confirmed that it was a daily occurrence.
In another instance on the same day, a woman lost her triplets during delivery. According to eyewitnesses, the woman had earlier visited the hospital and complained. After examination, she was told that one of the unborn babies had died, but was convinced that it wouldn’t affect the other two. They were wrong. She lost the three babies.
Babies who die at birth in the hospital, are usually placed in cartons and ferried away by nurses. It’s a terrible sight to behold and scary for those who place premium on human lives.
Sharing his experience, a civil servant, Titus Amadi, narrated: “At the Kubwa General Hospital, my wife had a miscarriage about three months ago. While she was having pains, we went for a scan at a private facility near the hospital because the queue in the hospital was much.
“When we came back with that result, which showed that the baby was in perfect condition, the hospital still referred us to do another scan within the premises. We waited for hours and then she started bleeding. Thereafter, it was her turn for scan and the result showed the baby was no longer there.
“We went back to the doctor who said he wouldn’t attend to us again because he was tired and had been on duty for long. We had to beg him, that the queue in the hospital was much. He didn’t listen. I had to activate my contacts before he reluctantly attended to us and referred her for evacuation.
“In all of these, the pharmacy department didn’t have much drugs. We had to buy most prescribed drugs from outside. The Health and Human Services Secretariat in the FCT Administration did a good thing by digitising some of the processes in the hospital. However, the network can be down sometimes for a long time, meaning that one’s laboratory test results cannot be immediately sent to the doctor.”
When contacted, the acting General Manager, FCT Hospitals Management Board, Dr Francis Alu, said that no system is perfect, but insisted that the massive patronage witnessed in General Hospitals, is a clear evidence that the health professionals are doing their best.
He said: “I don’t know what you imply by maltreatment of patients, but I can assure you that FCTA Hospitals provide efficient and affordable healthcare services to its clients. This is evident from the massive patronage you witness in these hospitals on a daily basis.
“No system is perfect as you know and so there may have been rare incidents of misunderstanding of the health care workers’ intentions/actions by some patients. This should not diminish the good work being done by these professionals. Thank you for reaching out to me. Regards.”