EXCLUSIVE: Parents lament poor infant Medicare at Delta Hospital
...call for investigation into activities of personnel
By Gabriel Elozino, Delta
Parants in Ughelli metropolis in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, are passing through hard times in securing Medicare for their infants despite the state government’s free medical care for children between the ages of one to five years.
While some affected parents accused the state government of using the free Medicare as a medium to siphon money from the state coffers, others have blamed the poor service on administrative lapses on the part of the management of the hospital.
When The Trumpet visited the pediatric and records section of the Ughelli Central Hospital on Monday, over 300 women and their infants were seen waiting to be called by the health assistant to the doctor in charge, for proper diagnosis.
Some of the parents who spoke to our correspondent lamented the situation, calling on the Delta State government and the state’s ministry of health to investigate the activities of the hospital.
A parent, Mrs. Ejiefe said, “I was here before 6am to secure treatment for my child, who is just three years old, because we could not sleep throughout the night. He was running temperature seriously and because of where we are, we could not rush him that night until this morning.
“Behold by this morning, the body has calm down a little, so I brought him here. When I came, I took him to the emergency section, but they directed me to records to get the card for the baby. I met the man in charge and he searched for the card and saw it. Although I met many others when I came, the man in charge recorded it and told me to go and sit down and that is how I have been here with my child since morning till what is the time now, 1:30pm.
“The only time I left here was when I went to get something for my boy and myself to eat because we could not eat before we left the house just to meet up. Now from what I’m hearing, they are saying they can no longer attend to us, that it is only one doctor on duty and she has been the one attending people since morning, they are saying we should come tomorrow.
“Now my son’s temperature is already rising again. I’m taking him to a chemist if they can give me any drug to manage the situation till tomorrow, because is too risky to leave him like this. God forbid, what if something happen? Please, government need to do something about this, the stress alone is too much. If there is a way you people can let the government know for things to get better please do, we are appealing.”
Another parent Mr. Henry Oghenekaro said, “to me what they are doing here is nonsense. They are just taking people’s life for granted, they are joking with people’s life. How can somebody rush his child to the hospital and you keep him and the child for 9 hours without any attention? Personally, I don’t believe anybody would want to bring their child here because of the way they are doing things, but because this is a central hospital, where you are supposed to have qualified doctors, which we know they have but don’t want to work.
“They prefer to refer people to their personal hospital instead of attending to them here. It is even worse with cases of children because government have declared their treatment to be free, that is for one to five years old. For instance, I came here about 10am and this is 3pm and I don’t even know where I stand.
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“When I came, I went to get card, because I’m even ready to pay for whatever treatment, I didn’t come for their free treatment but rather to seek professional help. When I got there, the lady ask how old was my daughter, I said 2 years and she said I should go to Okowa office, and directed me. When I got there, I met a young lady, who was playing with her phone, she asked me to sit down and continued with her phone. Within me, I was like, does these people understand that they are dealing with human lives?
“By the time she was done, after about 30 minutes she now attended to me. She registered my daughter, and even snapped her and recorded her as under one of the beneficiaries of the free medical care of the state government. But here we are, they said we should go and come back tomorrow without any single thing done.
“They said there is a specific number of children they can attend to on daily basis, which is just 50 infants. Once that number is completed, the rest should come and try the next day, irrespective of the child’s condition. Can you imagine? How can only one doctor be on duty in a central hospital where over 1000 children are brought for treatment on a daily basis?
“Now, I’m leaving to seek alternative way to treat my daughter, but it is already in their records that they have attended to my daughter under their free healthcare programme, and it is that record that they transmit to Asaba that they are working. Meanwhile they didn’t do anything.
“I think government should investigate the activities of this Ughelli Central Hospital, we know having personal hospital and referring patients to same has been a long term practice in government owned hospitals but the one of this hospital is just to the extreme.
“How can you come to a hospital of this calibre and you hardly find a single doctor on duty? I’m not talking about the Pediatric section alone but all the wards it is the same complain. Meanwhile, these doctors receive salaries here and refer people for treatment to their personal hospitals. The case has even gone from bad to worse, now you don’t even meet them at all. They don’t come to work.”
Another parent, Mrs Emonena said, “I came last week to treat my child. By the time we managed to see the doctor, he told us that they were going to refer us to Warri. So, I went back that day because I don’t have money to go to Warri. It was one of the Nurse that live close to us that took my number and asked me to come today (Monday), that I will meet another doctor.
“Personally, I have given up. I wanted to go and try native but some persons persuaded me, so I came today. Thank God it was another doctor that is on duty today that attended to us.”
BLAME GOVERNMENT NOT US – NURSE
The Medical Director of the Hospital, who we learnt is the Pediatrician and the Head of the Unit, was not in his office when our correspondent visited his office for comments. However, a Senior Nurse who does not want her name mentioned because she was not authorised to speak, blamed the issue on shortage of medical personnel.
“They are complaining that we are not working, we are not attending to patients. What do they expect from us? Are we going to divide ourselves? I have been here, I have not rested since morning. What am I doing if not my job?
“They should stop blaming us but should blame the government or better still appeal to the government to employ more hands. This hospital was upgraded from a General Hospital to a Central Hospital but it is still the same personnel. One of the criteria for the upgrade is the number of patients patronising the hospital, which they recognise have increased and upgraded us. But they have done little or nothing to improve the staff strength of the hospital.
“The government needs to employ. Most of the personnel you see here are casual workers being paid by the hospital just so that the work can go on smoothly,” she said.