‘Buying’ Sickness From Hospital

It is never the dream of any person escorting a sick relative to the hospital to come out of the place with one kind of ailment or another. But at the Effia-Nkwanta Regional Hospital in Sekondi, the reality is that many who accompany their sick relatives there and decide to provide them some care end up becoming sick too. This is because the escorts, most of whom are middle-aged women from outlying settlements, are compelled to sleep in the open since they cannot pay for rooms at hospitality facilities for the period their relatives would be on admission. Under the circumstances, passageways leading to the wards in the hospital are turned into sleeping areas with harmful insects biting these people. When the Daily Graphic was leaving the hospital at about 1 a.m. after ascertaining the situation, some relatives of patients on admission were seen sleeping on the bare floor, with others lying on student matresses which they had rented. First visit Earlier, at about 8:30 p.m, family members providing some care to their sick relatives had to rush back to secure spaces on the corridors. In fact, the situation is so dire that a relative told the Daily Graphic that if the relatives were two, then one person would have to secure a sleeping place while the other stayed by the relative on admission. The wards in the hospital that have influx of relatives accompanying patients on admission are the delivery, obstetric, gynaecology, surgical and the male, female and the Children’s Department. At the obstetric and gynaecology departments, relatives sleep on the bare floor, without mosquito netting. The situation at the frontage of other wards is not different as some women with children were found sleeping in the cold. Bathing At dawn, the women bath in secluded places behind buildings and change their clothes. Some also hide behind containers placed in front of the maternity block to take their bath and cook breakfast as they get ready to provide care to their relatives. A middle aged woman, Maame Atta, said she had come from a village near Asankragwa in the Amenfi West District and “I cannot go and come back every day.” “I am here because of my son. I have no relative in the metropolis but I have to be here to support him and visit him every day. Even though where I sleep is not safe, there is nothing I can do,” she said. Returning home with sickness One woman said as a result of sleeping in the cold, rain and dust, “we also get sick by the time our relatives get well”. She said even as she spoke she had bodily pains and a headache. “We will not blame it on the hospital, but we wish something would be done to ensure that we have a better place to stay. We come from very far places,” another woman said. Administration The hospital’s administration acknowledged the problem and described the situation as unfortunate. The Medical Director of the Effia-Nkwantah Regional Hospital, Dr Paul Ntodi, said under normal circumstances, family members were not allowed to sleep under such deplorable conditions. He agreed that sleeping in the open exposed them to insects and all manner of illnesses. Solution Dr Ntodi said the solution to the problem was for a hostel facility to be built for visitors. He said the hospital was seeking support to put up a facility. Meanwhile, he said, even though their efforts had not been enough, the hospital was trying to make life easy for relatives who accompanied the sick to the hospital. He, therefore, appealed to the public for assistance to house such people. So far, he said, the only positive response in that direction had come from the Member of Parliament for Sekondi, Papa Owusu Ankoma. “Much as we don’t want people to sleep on the corridors of the hospital, we cannot drive them away either. The only way out is to have a hostel,” he said.