D. Webster Cassell
I have heard people talk and discuss the poor services being rendered at one of government’s leading hospitals, the REDEMPTION HOSPITAL situated on the Bushrod Island particularly in the Borough of New Kru Town. Some of the discussants repeatedly pointed to a number of ill-fated attitudes being exhibited by employees (in all categories) of that institution.
In most cases, I defended the later on grounds that Liberians themselves know how to criticize while they are not or have not done anything to help the situation. It was stunning to see in my presence how unprofessional and bad off that hospital has gone.
The state-run medical center, the biggest on the Bushrod Island, one of the largest populated based areas in Monrovia lacks ‘manpower-discipline,’ something that has resulted to the untimely death of several babies and adults.
The word REDEMPTION given its meaning speaks to the act of redeeming or the condition of having been redeemed. This definition is definitely far from the reality at that hospital where hundreds of people run to on a daily basis to seek medical attention.
Some of you who are major in English may not agree with me on the combination of “manpower and discipline” to produce manpower-discipline. But I must frankly put it that way because situation has gone from bad to worse at the Redemption Hospital, a place you see nurses and doctors neatly dressed in their professional suits ready to perform their professional duties. The institution actually lacks manpower and the worst of all is that those who have been fortunate to work for government at that level lack discipline and manner of approach. This has been a repeated and age-old problem that is permeating the medical profession. I am not aware as to whether those at the highest level have been informed about the lackadaisical attitude of nurses in this country, if not, then I must quickly say that the Ministry of Health needs to begin that assessment.
The British Midwife’s Experience
It was reported few years back that one in 25 babies delivered in Liberia, West Africa is stillborn or dies within 24 hours, making it one of the toughest places in the world to deliver babies, as a British midwife found.
Suzanne Saunders-Blundell who spent two weeks in Liberia filming ‘Toughest Place To Be’, a midwife said, “I’ve never watched anybody die. It was like she was almost dying in front of my eyes and that is the best way I can describe it.
Suzanne works in the UK as a labour ward coordinator but visited Liberia to spend two weeks helping midwives and doctors at the Redemption Hospital in Liberia’s capital Monrovia.
In Liberia, Suzanne said babies die every day in hospitals and mothers risk their lives in childbirth. If something goes wrong or an infection sets in after labour, often there are no medicines to help.
Based at the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, Suzanne Saunders-Blundell used to have experts on call, hi-tech equipment and access to medicines.
In Monrovia, particularly at the Redemption Hospital, she found nothing happening. What she saw was the staff working with only basic facilities and limited medical supplies.
She was shocked to find some Liberian midwives pressing on a woman’s abdomen to help move the baby out. Suzanne had hoped to learn more natural birthing processes in Liberia, but found the high demand for help and few beds meant for Liberia’s midwives to focus on a slow labour.
“It’s a big shock and it’s a big disappointment, that these are the people who really should be getting back to nature, to improve the care they give, but not dominate it,” she added.
At the Redemption Hospital, Suzanne also realized that antibiotics were scarce and premature babies were wrapped in tin foils, as nobody knew how to operate an incubator donated by UNICEF.
On her first day Suzanne found she had to help deliver a stillborn child. The woman who lost her child was still in bed when another woman gave birth next to her.
According to her, they had a woman with diarrhea and next was a woman who just had a stillbirth and, next to a woman who got a live baby; next to somebody who had had an abortion.
Three To Four Babies To A Bed
The narrative of that British midwife clearly signals how terrible one of the country’s biggest medical centers has been and is still. That lady was so disappointed like every other Liberian who on a daily basis runs to that hospital in the name of seeking medical attention.
For me, my experience was with the children ward. I too was disappointed and frustrated to see three to four babies been squeezed on one old bed. In fact, the nurses’ look in your face tells you squarely that the hospital is a government hospital and so if one requires a good medical attention, he or she must transfer to a better medical center.
Most of them, from what I witnessed do not give hope to the mothers rather they rain insults. Some of the mothers complain of lack of attention, but their cries are in vain because how can you have two nurses attending to over 25 children. Do you expect them to be effective and efficient?
It becomes worrisome everyday of this troublesome life particularly in this care-free country where basic health services are still major issues, and from what I see our government officials are doing little to address those concerns. In fact, I am not sure that the Ministry of Health or whatever relevant authority to authenticate some of the claims people made or maybe they too are aware of the happenings and have decided to just exhibit the similar care-free approach.
I must admit that instead of redeeming lives, the Redemption Hospital I saw and the services I saw, the approaches I saw, the facilities I saw, gave a different picture of a real and national medical center.
If anybody thinks what I am saying is a makeup; let he or she go there and do their own assessment. In fact, maybe their experience might be worse than what I am propounding.
It is true that staffing shortages in Liberia’s hospitals are crippling. There are fewer than 60 Liberian doctors in the country and the Redemption Hospital is of no exception.
My concern is still boiling and I am eager to know who is actually responsible to check on those medical practitioners who are in the employ of government’s medical centers because it is no secret that on a daily basis not a single soul will complain about ills at either JFK Medical Center or the Redemption Hospital.
Is Government actually aware of what is happening there? If not, then I am recommending to the Health Ministry and the Chief Medical Officer of Liberia to begin a rigorous process that will see nurses in particular wear suit of professionalism. If nothing of such is in place, I foresee more pre-mature deaths at the Redemption and JFK only because nurses are of the belief that the hospital is free and so if anyone wants to go to any private clinic or private doctor, it will be appropriate.
This too is Liberia, when will the change come? To be continued.
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