Weeks after his wife, Mrs Omolara Kalejaiye, died while being taken to a private hospital, a community leader and Baale of Apapa road area in Lagos, Chief Kehinde Kalejaiye, is still caught in the grips of grief.
The distraught man has also not ceased to blame decades of poor funding of the public healthcare system for the death of his wife.
In an emotion-laden voice, Kalejaiye narrated to Sunday Sun the chain of events that led to the demise of his wife: “I was at home around 11pm when I got a call that my wife slumped in the bathroom. My son who was at home wanted to rush her to Gbagada General Hospital but I refused and instructed that she should be taken to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja. The reason I was not comfortable with her being taken to Gbagada was because I lost my cousin five years ago at that hospital to due to negligence and unprofessional conduct of the staff. So she was taken to the Accident and Emergency Unit of LASUTH. I quickly joined them. When I got there I learnt from the doctor who attended to her that she could not be admitted because there was no vacant bed. I was shocked; I could not understand how a bed could not found for an emergency case.
“Another doctor came out and put her on a wheelchair because she was unconscious and took her to the emergency room. She was given first aid. An oxygen mask was fixed on her. I was asked to buy drip and some other drugs, which we immediately bought.
“As the drip and other drugs took effect, she responded to the treatment and opened her eyes. After a little while she said she wanted to urinate. A small bucket was provided and she urinated into it.
Continuing, Kalejaiye said: “Prior to this time, I wasn’t feeling fine myself. So I went home. Her younger brother followed me to bring fresh clothes for her. By the time he returned to the hospital the story had changed. He called to say that my wife had been referred to the Federal Medical Centre, Yaba and that nurses had removed the drip.”
The bereaved husband said that he was deeply disturbed on upon getting the report on the situation of his wife, and wondered why the hospital could not continue with the first treatment till daybreak. By this time it was way past midnight and in the early hours of the next day. From the time we got to the hospital, my wife was in a wheelchair.
“Then I was called again that her leg had become stiff. I was also told that the nurses said that once person was referred to another medical facility, nurses would no longer attend to the person. Somehow, we made every effort to move her to FMC, Yaba. When we got there it was the same story of there being no vacant bed to admit her. FMC then referred us to the Military Hospital, Yaba.
In the face of the trauma of being moved around from one public hospital to another, the hapless 45 year-old woman died about 5.00am before she could reach a private hospital, leaving behind her two daughters, Adedamola (13) and Adedapo, an 11-year-old.
Expectedly, the experience has left Kalejaiye in agony and turned him into a campaigner for rebirth of the public healthcare delivery system.
His words: “I want to beg the federal and state government to put things right in the general hospitals. The workers in most government hospitals show nonchalant attitude and lack of human feelings; life is not important to them. It is painful that they don’t value life. At emergency there should be about four doctors but it was only one doctor and a nurse that were on duty that night at the accident and emergency unit of a place as big as LASUTH. When they referred her to another hospital I asked if we would be taken to FMC with a LASUTH ambulance and they said no and shouted at my brother-in-law that he should take her out of the emergency ward. I lost my the wife of my life, my best friend and mini goddess.
“I want the government to do something about the issue of scarcity of beds in public hospitals bed. Instead of going around to share N10,000 to market women, the government should used the money to improve government hospitals. The government must solve the problem of scarcity of beds by building more wards.’
Kalejaiye who noted that he had long respected LASUTH as a healthcare facility, said the recent experience he had at the public hospital and FMC, Yaba, left him totally disappointed.
He said: “I am still in shock and I have lost confidence in LASUTH. The hospital disappointed me. I will never forget this. My late wife was like a mother to me. Her death has left a hole in my heart. I am in pain.
Omolara was much loved for her generosity. Her younger brother, Adewale, told Sunday Sun that life without her would be hard for him. He said: “Am an orphan and she took me in when I was a child. So she is my mother. She catered for me and I have never lacked anything. I am a 300-level student of Computer Engineering at the University of Lagos. Life will be hard without her; my helper has gone.”
When the Public Relations Officer of LASUTH, Mrs. K.A. Anifowoshe-Bello was first contacted to react to the allegations made by Kalejaiye, she declined to comment on the claims made by the husband of the deceased. She said that she authorised to speak on the matter but rather requested that a formal letter be written in that regard to the Chief Medical Director, Prof Adewale Oke. This was done on December 20, 2018. But Sunday Sun was tossed from official to another. The PRO who said she was away on assignment outside the hospital passed stated her deputy could act on her behalf. The deputy PRO referred the reporter to the Head, Communication and Information Department, Mr Ayeni, who assured that he would investigate the matter.
As at the time Anifowoshe-Bello was contacted again on the phone on January 8, 2019, she said that the matter was still being investigated.