Accident and Emergency unit in a medical facility is primarily set up to give immediate attention to patients with critical heath conditions that may not survive through the long process of the General Operations Department (GOPD). AFRICATELL takes a look at the UUTH A&E unit.
Patients expected at the A&E unit are mostly victims accident or sudden health issues that warrant immediate and intensive attention by physicians to save the life of such patients within a very short time and medical team in such units are expected to be quit apt, ntelligent, and full of options and always on duty post. Such units are also expected to be well equipped with medical equipment and consumables to cater for any emergency health situation.
It is unfortunate to note that the A&E unit in the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH) is the opposite of what is expected of such facility in a hospital; it can best be described as posing as death trap to patients who are rushed down there for supposedly, immediate attention. Anyone who is battling between life and death would definitely have the latter option because; medical practitioners are never sufficient for the cases available and the few who are on ground don’t respond to new and more pressing cases while already on another case.
This is partially not the fault of the practitioners as every relative eeds immediate and intense attention and can hardly let go a turn when it finally comes to another patient no matter how severe and urgent as he may also lose his person in the cause of trying to help another and in such case, a life will go except by special or divine intervention.
Firstly, the facilities at the A&E unit is over stressed due to the slow and cumbersome operations of the GOPD such that some patients who ordinarily would have been admitted through GOPD would rush to A&E unit to buy off time and ensure adequate attention.
Our reporter who visited the facility recently observed that most patients under emergency condition stay in wheel chairs for hours unattended to as the unit has very limited number of couches and the process of admitting patients and sending them to respective wards or intensive care unit is always very slow.
Consequently, the facilities are not often freed for other emergency cases to be attended to and leads to fatality most often.
Resuscitating a ceased patient is another very difficult and near impossible task in the UUTH A&E unit for lack of facilities. There are actually very many oxygen cylinders in the unit which is supposed to help a ceasing patient to regain normal breathing process but the cylinders seen are empty and cannot function without oxygen.
A typical case was a man in his early 50s who died on the morning of Wednesday, January 27; according to the new widow, she brought the husband, who had sudden health issues on Monday morning to the hospital and never expected him to die but the machine that was supposed to be used to evacuate gas from his system was not working.
And to worsen the whole situation, when oxygen was needed to aid his breathing process; none was found. “I watched them running aimlessly until my husband gave up in pains. This hospital does not worth it at all. I wish…I just wish” the widow in her 30s wept.
Another relative who gave his name simply as Engr. Udo, complained that his mother’s case was not all that an emergency but said they were delayed at the GOPD until it was too late for her to be attended to by the GOPD doctors and he opted for the suggestion by one of the nurses to take her to the A&E unit since she was already in pains and would not be wise to take her back home unattended to.
He described his experience in the unit as traumatic; apart from seeing people die uncared for by medical practitioners around, Udo decried the porous state of facilities and services in the unit.
“At a point I concluded that human lives mean nothing to the people working in this unit, they seem not to be doing anything to stop one from dying but preparing to certify one dead and to just push aside and leave. I have been here with mum for the past two days and I have witnessed people die out of sheer negligence. There are no emergency cares givers here and there are no emergency care facilities here.
“Everybody here wants to be pushed and pursued to do the needful and some cases don’t survive such. I am privileged because I have the time and influence coupled with the fact that my mother was not critically ill, I just needed to be sure of her case so I can return to work but on the whole; emergency patient would hardly survive here.” Udo maintained.
So many families have been thrown into sorrow due to untimely and avoidable dead of their bread winners occasioned by negligence in the hospital; Mrs. Eyo of Ifa in Uyo Local Government Area says she is passing through hell with a meager salary to cater for her daughter’s school fees in the United States since the demise of her husband who was an academic Don in the University of Uyo.
According to her, the husband was involved in a ghastly accident along Ikot Ekpene Road and was rushed to the A&E unit of UUTH and was kept for two days without proper attention. “We were there from Monday Morning to Wednesday, it was on Tuesday evening that it was discovered that my husband’s right lung was deflated and needed a cardiologist to attend to him but the only cardiologist in the hospital said he was rushing to set exams for his students and will only return the next morning to attend to my husband. My husband did not make it till his return, I don’t know if he ever returned but I know what I am passing through to cater for three children in the university and one in the US.” She narrated.
The Chief Medical Director of the Hospital, Prof. Etete Peters said that there can hardly be enough staff in the facility with its status as Teaching Hospital because of the growing need for expansion.
He said in a chat with this reporter that the normal requirement for instance, is that at least, medical personnel; nurses, health attendants and so on should double because there is a standard ratio that is expected of a teaching hospital. For now, we have about 500 nurses but the number should be more than that so that we can have a ratio of two nurses to one doctor. Right now, we have only 400 doctors and out of that 400, about 100 of them are specialist doctors that is, consultants and about 200 Residents Doctors, saying that he still advises the Federal Government and the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Head of Service of the federation to allow for recruitment of more staff.
Prof. Peters is also calling on state Government and corporate bodies as well as public spirited individual in the society to donate their quota to the upgrading of the medical facility.