Act 2 scene 2: Mrs C has finally been taken to hospital by her husband. They arrive at the health centre
Mr C: (at the gate) oga please help me. My wife just fainted while going to ease herself. Where can I take her.
Gateman: ( a bit irritated) oga carry am go inside hospital.
Mr C: please which side, this is my first time here
Gateman: ( laughs), I no be doctor ooo. I no sabi which side you go go. Just enter inside and ask them.
He drives into the hospital compound. Leaves his wife with his first daughter in the tricycle car. He rushes to the security man at the door of the complex.
Mr C: oga, please help me. My wife needs to see a doctor.
Security man: sir, is this your first time here? Go to that counter over there where people gathered, they will attend to you.
Mr C: with all those people there? But this is an emergency na..
Security man: ( whispers).. oga when you reach there, tell them you want to buy emergency card. It will cost you ooo. Just ask for Nneka, she will atend to you.
Mr C moves towards the reception counter. He tries to make his way to the front of the line.
Patient 1: oga, where are you going to? Since I have been waiting, you that just came now you want to jump line.
Mr C: I want to buy emergency card
Patient 1 : me too.
Mr C: ( puzzled ) but you look fine.
Patient 1: you too. Me I want to be attended to sharp sharp, that’s why I am buying emergency card.
Mr C: so you mean all these people on this line are buying emergency cards?
Patient 2: yes ooo.. abeg just go to the back of the line.
Mr C is roughly pushed to the back of the line. He stares hopelessly at the crowd. He is lost in thought when he hears a familiar voice.
Mrs D: Papa Nkechi (she calls out). What brings you here? How is mama Nkechi? Has she put to bed?
Mr C: Thank God, please , my wife is outside in the keke, she fainted after delivery, I have been standing here, please help me, please , my wife, …
Mrs D: calm down oga, where is she? ( He gestures towards the car park) Take me to her. Okeke tell Okafor to bring a stretcher and come with him now now ( she calls out to a porter).
In the tricycle car, Mrs D does a quick assessment, and gives the following instructions.
Mrs D: Okafor, take this woman to the emergency room, tell them to call the doctor immediately. Okeke, collect this man’s money go and buy card for him. Papa Nkechi let’s follow to the emergency ward.
There are soo many things amiss in the dialogue above, soo many time wasting activities. We can gather the following from the above
1. The man could have been directed straight to the emergency room by the Gateman or the security man
2. The misuse of emergency cards which serve atimes as bribes patients pay in order to be seen first by the doctor.
3. The undeniable fact that quick attention is given to those that have relatives or friends in the health care system ( a sort of man know man situation).
You guessed it, level 4 delay is a delay in receiving appropriate care. It includes cumbersome hospital protocols, inadequate manpower and sometimes reduced financial abilities of the patient. It is factor in 52 percent of maternal deaths.
Everyone knows that the process / time involved before seeing the doctor can be pretty frustrating. First you come to hospital, they are doing praise and worship at 8am ( this is ok, if there us a specified time for it and it is made clear to everyone), worship is over, to get card- stress ( the crowd, the rude receptionist, the perpetual search for change). You finally fill out your biodata. Then you wait for an eternity for your card to get to the nurses station. When it gets there, you again have to wait because the nurses are on ward round/handover. Suddenly, a nurse saunters in and places a new folder at the top of the pile while you look on helplessly. Finally after almost 4 hours of waiting, you finally get to see the doctor, you are angry and you snap at the doctor who can’t understand your reason for being antagonistic. See the stress of going to see a doctor can even kill some people faster than their ailment.
At this point I would like to admit that not all hospitals are like the above. Some private hospitals have adopted specific consulting times, some use the appointment based structure etc. But for the majority the above is what can be expected.
Before you rush off to comment on all your bad experiences in the hospital let me put some points across to you.
1. Hospitals are not NGO’s . Their workers are not volunteers. They have expenses that must be paid, taxes, salaries, renovations and not to forget profit needs to be made.
2. Health care is expensive everywhere and somebody always has to pick the tab… govt? Insurance? Or individuals. . By paying your bills, you empower the hospital to do 1 above. Even in NGO’s, the tab is picked up by donations of philanthropists.
3. When a hospital cannot afford to pay it’s bills, staff power becomes stretched too thin, financial renumeration is no longer commensurate to work expected, staff unsatisfied and distracted because of the need for extra source of income.
True, we have a long way to go in our health facilities and a lot to do as health care workers, bringing all involved together is a necessary step. Time we all joined our hands together and abandoned this internal fight for supremacy. The health care system can only be as strong as it’s weakest link. This rivalry is our undoing. Are you a nurse? Be the best nurse the centre has seen, are you a cleaner? Let the others exclaim that there has never been a better cleaner than you. Are you a doctor? Deflate your ego a bit and give respect where due. For our centres to operate at max levels, we NEED all the various professions. #stoptherivalry #weareallimportant.
On a final note, when eventually we begin to get middle/low class appointment based consultations, please note that if you miss your appointment, you will have to reschedule… time is money. #africantimedoesnotapply