This Saturday started like every other Saturday mostly…
Except that I woke up worried… again. Usually on a Saturday, I’d try to linger for an hour or two more in bed and try to remember the very last dream I woke up from. Not this one. Jumping out of bed I quickly tied on my tired robe and rushed to mum’s room.
My older sister, bless her soul, has been with me for a month now, whiles we as a family have decided to give my ailing mother a better chance on herbal option of purely eating food grown organically in Ghana with no additives and meat or diary. She has been responding well so far. But no one can hope to heal a disease of over 40 years in one month! So times like these were to be expected…and if God judges to take her now despite our efforts… let her go in some peace and health, rather than this shoving of 18 drugs a day down her throat!
Within this time, I have come to understand and appreciate the unfortunate system we have been handed with no investments whatsoever in the natural remedies we are blessed with because it doesn’t help big Pharma and the cartel we by our actions, continue to empower. Eat poorly, get sick and on drugs. Drugs keep you hanging on and spending money until both rivers run dry!
Enough of my rambling thoughts!!! Last week, her eyes had rolled into her head and what saved the day was cayenne pepper before we even called the doctors, believe it or not!
Anyways, It is almost 5pm and I make a quick decision. We call 112 emergency number for Ghana. It takes them a while, as our address system and tracking is really terrible in this country! We try the Ghanapost emergency button because we are hoping by now that it has been activated… but no… I wonder what the holdback is; they finally arrive.
The Yaboah hospital at East Legon is our first stop. They have her records after all and especially after Healthlink had failed us previously (today I am mentioning names)
In my mind, there is a certain way hospitals are supposed to respond to emergencies… and so when we get there and 5 minutes later no one seems to even care, I start to loose it! They have been better to us in the past; so what’s going on?
“Where are all the nurses and doctors?!’ I scream
A doctor and nurse leisurely walk to the door. We recognize the nurse from a previous visit. Great and helpful lady. Will forever remember how kind she was to my mum on our last visit… anyways I digress
“The emergency facilities of the hospital have been closed down because of COVID-19” the doctor leisurely proclaims.
“Closed down?!” I nearly choked! “What does that mean? This is a hospital and there is no sign outside that you are not working. So what should we do?”
“I don’t know madam, we are not working, the emergency is closed”
“Is that all you can say? This is an emergency situation, no first aid? Nothing?! No referral to another hospital? No help?” By this time, I am near loosing it!
Still hand in pocket, the doctor strolls slowly into his office. Supposedly dials the number of the owner to confirm the decision. At this time, it is clear we are getting No help! “I won’t keep quiet over this guys, know this, I won’t!”
The gentleman in the ambulance who has been keeping my mum steady comes to me… “we will keep her steady. That’s what the ambulance is for. Don’t mind them, else your own pressure will also rise and we will have double trouble. We have relationships with some hospitals so we will call around. Even without referral, please let’s go madam”
“Where else can we go? I am confused please” because at this time, my mum is also vomiting and I have no way to determine if this is further deterioration. I am already thanking God I opted to call an ambulance instead of using normal vehicle to transport her. We all decide to move to Nyaho clinic…
About 15 min later, we are driving into Nyaho whiles all the time I am calling everyone I know to help me reach someone who knows someone at Nyaho or anywhere else…
Same story… we park. No one comes out… we rush around looking for someone to at least pay attention. No one cares. After about 20 min, a security man tells us calmly, “madam they won’t mind you… there is no bed” half the place is also closed down because of covid cases and rooms booked for those in the diplomatic service mainly”
“huh?!” That’s me! But by now, my mind is already racing to other options… ambulance personnel tell us to go to Ridge hospital. “Madam their facilities are even way better than kolebu. You will love it”
Ok! We take off. A dear friend calls me to tell me she may be getting some options at Nyaho after all…
“We are on our way already to Ridge so let’s just keep going” I tell her. “Ok, let me see if I can find anyone I know there as well’ she says “eyi! So does this mean that if you don’t know anyone in this country you may truly not get the help you need at times like this?!”
She goes on to give me a little more detail about her own previous experience recently. The details scare the shit out of me at this time, and my silent prayers move on to another level. As the thought runs through my head… did I make the right decision to take her to a hospital even at this dangerous time of covid? What if she catches something even more deadly? If this is her time, is this how we want her to go? I remembered all the stories I had heard of people moving around looking for hospital bed and their person dying in the process outside on a cold car seat? Just last week, a friend also had a terrible experience at the Ssnit hospital!
At least this time she is in am ambulance. I console myself.
We drive into the emergency of the beautiful domineering, much talked about Ridge… a nurse all suited up, including white boots and all, steps out to tell us nicely
“There is no bed. But we have asked the ambulance to leave their bed for the patient and pick it up tomorrow”
“But what if some one else needs the service tonight? I ask?”
…And did i mention that it has been raining cat and dogs most part of the day?
Anyways, we finally finish ‘protocols’ to be taken through a very dirty entrance, over flowing emergency room and seemingly uncaring, rude nurses.
In the two days we spent in the 13 bed capacity room (someone please explain to me why a huge hospital like Ridge hospital in the middle of Accra has an emergency room that takes all cases coming into the hospital, especially at this time of covid has only 13 beds?
With further query, I am told suspected covid cases have a different entrance and protocol. I guess this information is supposed to give me some consolation because everyone in this room seem to be on a ventilator!
I whip out my sanitizer and wipes and distribute to my family with strict instructions. Wipe everything every five minutes!
What we saw! Folks fainting on the floor with no care! Poop flowing from patients and no care. It is my view that the security guys at the emergencies should be retrained sharp!
I can’t say though, that this is my worst hospital experience so far. The doctors have done a good job and she is now stable…
Finally they move us up from the emergency room downstairs and we have a very nice view somewhere upstairs. They seem to have very very good equipment…
It’s all cash and carry I notice, even though we have the insurance card. I turn to the very helpful medical assistant who has taken special interest in us it seems…
“Isn’t this a Government hospital?” Him “it is”… me “but everything is full cash and carry?”
Shrugging his shoulders “madam, I don’t know ooo”
Me… let’s just pray this nightmare ends soon.
My mum mentioned my name this morning and so I will try and forget the horror of my weekend and I will seek to process the reason for which we have medical personnel in this country with such attitudes to the pain of people… but I can imagine that empathy will be in short supply when your own pool is dry!…
Whatever you do this week… DONT GET SICK! EAT YOUR MEDICINE.
And let’s remember that no one can give from a pool that is dry! We have a very long way to go with healthcare delivery in this country… but knowing the problem is part of the solution and knowing that we all have to invest in the system and support Government to improve the system! It is our rights and as citizens, we must demand this basic human right… but what must we do to work on the human elements of the system? Buildings and equipments can not run themselves afterall!
Take a moment for this, for you never know when it will be your turn as surely we will all have turns! Pardon my rambling for I am in a foul mood
In the meantime, the rudeness continues unabated… no communication, but we trust care is ongoing so we remain lurking in the corners of the hospital, hoping someone will tell us what next