My Wife Almost Bled To Death’–Patients At Uniabuja Teaching Hospital Recount Pains Of Getting Care 

If you cannot bear the pain of endless waiting if you have an emergency case, the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, may not be the right destination for you when seeking medical care.

Patients who spoke to THE WHISTLER at the hospital last week narrated tales of pain and frustration while seeking care at the hospital.

Suleiman Mohammed’s heavily pregnant wife was bleeding when he rushed her to the emergency wing of the hospital from Suleja-a distance of nearly 32 kilometres.His wife was bleeding and losing strength when they arrived at the hospital on Monday morning at about 8;30.

He said: “We came here last Monday, around 8:30pm and went to the emergency room. We stayed for about 2hrs before they attended to us, and then told us to pay some bills; consultation fees and a deposit of N5,000. 00. Everything was getting to N11, 000.00. So they directed us to the pay point.

“We waited on the queue for more than two hours because there was no network on their computer system. We suggested they do it manually but the cashier didn’t even talk to us. Before they could start treating my wife, it got to about 12 midnight. My wife was bleeding and if she was destined to die that day, my wife could have just died.”

THE WHISTLER met Mohammed at the hospital a week after his wife’s initial travails. He said his wife was later admitted in the middle of the night and a doctor finally attended to her and she was stabilized.

 Muhammed  was relieved when his wife was admitted at the emergency unit for two days before being transferred to the female medical ward. But at the ward, he and his wife experienced a different frustration.

Patients with different ailments were put in the same ward with his wife.”There’s a patient with a disorder that was brought into the ward at night and she couldn’t allow others to sleep. She shouted all through the night. My wife is hypertensive. She complained of a constant headache and how her blood pressure couldn’t go down,’ he recounted. 

Despite the inconveniences suffered, Mohammed said his anguish turned to desperation due to the exorbitant fees charged at the hospital. “It is too high! Not a hospital for a common man.” 

Others Recount Similar Tales

Jonathan Audu who brought a patient from far away Taraba State got a rude shock at the treatment he and others received at the emergency wing of the hospital.

Audu said the unit does not give emergency care as the name implies. He said, “In the emergency unit people are left on their own no matter their condition until they conclude the hospital processes, which may take hours.

“There was this particular man who was brought and could not walk unaided. His younger brother was the one helping him to walk. He was too sick to stand on his own, but the security man was saying; ‘Please don’t bring him close to this place until he finishes with the doctor.’

“ I saw a patient die there in my presence due to such negligence.”

An outpatient referred from the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Lokoja, who was asked to do several tests, including x-ray, also narrated her woes. THE WHISTLER met her after she obtained a scan result.

Mama, as she was called, said, “Honestly, my experience with this hospital is not ok at all.  I just managed to get my scan done. I came here yesterday on referral from FMC Lokoja.”

“The scan takes too long. They’ll need to book you and tell you to go and come back. But I was lucky to get one of their personnel to help me get the scan done.  It doesn’t even take 30min and the scan is over. 

They had already booked me to go and come back next week, imagine going back to Lokoja and coming back because of scan.”

She sat down on a bench looking exhausted. She said, “See me, I’m already stressed up, and tired. And I still have four other things to do including a chest x-ray. When I came this morning they asked me to go and collect an invoice. There, they told me that they are booking me for next week, Friday.”

THE WHISTLER saw a huge crowd at the scan section of the hospital. Another angry patient who didn’t give his name riled at the management of the hospital. He said, “The management here is bad. It’s very  poor. I was supposed to make these payments since, but they took light. They didn’t switch on the generator since, only a few seconds ago.

“If you go to the radiography, scan, laboratory, many people will be there. There’s no light. People are tired. Common pregnancy test, they’ll ask you to come back next day. If you don’t know anybody there you’ll have to wait as they said. Those that know people, you’ll see them entering.”

THE WHISTLER met Okwomma Magret, a patient on admission in the female ward of the hospital. She came there on referral from the Maitama General Hospital. She also expressed her disgust at the state of facilities and service at the hospital.

Okomo Magret on admission

“This is a government hospital. See, this ceiling fan above me is not working, that one too.  We have a problem with insufficient stretchers; they only have one around here. Because of this, I missed my physiotherapy the other day. We couldn’t get any available one to convey me to where I’ll receive that treatment. 

“They need to fix these things to make their work effective. Then, there’s the issue of electricity and water. That too they need to work on, but those in theatre I know may be having light. Cleaners too should be cleaning the wards on time; I heard that their pay is peanuts,” she said.

Positive Stories 

However, some of the patients said while processes at the hospital are cumbersome and frustrating, the medical personnel is topnotch.

Magret said, “I first came here unconscious, as I was told, but thank God for the intervention of the doctors,  I was restored back to life. That’s what their medication does. Truly the doctors are trying, trying, trying.

“ I have spent three months here due to pains in my left hip, and there are some sicknesses that I didn’t know I had until when the doctors worked on me. The nurses too are good. The well trained ones don’t even allow my girl to remove the cataract when it’s full of urine. They’ll tell her to call them. The moment they see it full they’ll get their gloves and empty it.” 

Another patient who didn’t give his name said, “To be frank, in the whole of Abuja, this is the best hospital you can see around. They have many consultants; even from Abuja city you’ll see hospitals referring patients here. 

“They have so many experts like gynecologists here but their services are very poor. Some time ago, my wife was led to the emergency; they immediately took her in and operated her. And it was fine.”

A toilet in the female ward

We’re In Transition– Hospital Management’s Response

Suleiman Sani, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the hospital  said: “Regarding the payment point; I see what the hospital is doing under the present CMD, Prof Bisallah Ekele. We are now witnessing a very good and robust transition from analogue to e-payment. So, the patients are undergoing a sort of change that they are not or were not aware of.

“They really find it difficult to exercise patience especially with the details they are being asked. It’s the effort of the management to make sure that everything is done electronically. And that is what is bringing the delay and the difficulty.”

Sani also spoke about the allegations raised regarding the emergency unit saying that the hospital is outstretched. So many patients come on referral from different axis. 

In his words: “For the emergencies, you’ll agree with me that this hospital is like in the centre, receiving accident victims from all parts of the country.

“The management is making efforts to ensure that water storage is provided including making sure that adequate energy is supplied to the hospital and the surrounding communities. You know the situation of power supply in this country. Most companies supplying the power are not living up to the expectations. There are generating sets that are powered to supply to wards.”

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