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Why are people who work in hospital like this?

OPINION
By Cosmas Butunyi | May 1st 2020

What happens to people who work in public health facilities? It almost seems as if being rude and arrogant and rough is a qualification for being hired.

From the security guy and the nurse to the cleaner and the cashier, the attitude that is served in hospitals is on another level – it runs on steroids. A genuinely nice person in these places, who is happy to help, is an exception, rather than the rule. Sometimes, one even needs to ‘know’ people to be treated fairly.

One would expect that by virtue of handling ailing people, these individuals would be humility and niceness personified. That witnessing the suffering of others would make them a lot more in touch with their mortality, picturing themselves on the other end of the equation sometime. But alas!

Is it the constant encounter with pain and suffering day-in-day-out that has made these people who work in hospitals have such stone-cold hearts? They just do not give three hoots. No wonder, only a few days ago, a man - father, fine writer, respectable member of society, and easily recognizable having been a news anchor – reportedly lay in pain at the country’s premier referral facility. Maybe he was writhing and moaning, we will never know, but this went on for 14 straight hours (the Hospital insists its medics did their best) until he eventually breathed his last. All this while, medics and paramedics and all those other people who work in hospital probably went back and forth, while he lay there. Shifts probably changed, and a new set of hands showed up, fresh from home, to take charge of the facility but even they just ignored this injured guy. Like he was a piece of furniture they always see at the ER on any normal working day. Or maybe he was invisible, they could not see him all this while and only got to hear about his sad demise from the news like the rest of us. Whatever happened to compassion and humanity and empathy!

This is a sad time to be alive. The healthcare system grossly failed this individual and many others who have ended up dying of cases that could have been easily prevented if anyone cared.

Probably such cases happen quietly every other day in health facilities across the country, escaping notice of the rest of us. We only got to know of this particular one because the deceased happened to be a man in the public eye, a darling of the people. How many more people are ignored, literally left for dead even after getting into hospital where help is supposed to be?

Not that this started happening in this terrible year of Coronavirus. Remember that other gentleman a few years ago, survived a bad accident with really bad head injuries. Still, no one thought it was an emergency when he was rushed to the major hospital that he had been referred to for specialized attention. The said attention was not yet available and he had to be kept in the ambulance that brought him in, parked outside for 18 hours. Apparently, there was no bed in ICU to admit him so the hospital would not accept him. By the time it became available, he slid into a coma and eventually passed on after gallantly fighting for his life for a few days in what can be called a solo battle. The shame!

Surely, of what use is building all these hospitals across the country, ostensibly taking healthcare closer to the people, if unwell people will get there in time and still not be attended to the point that they succumb? Why bother spending on such facilities? Why do we even waste our breath going on and on about delivering universal healthcare coverage when preventable deaths happen right under the noses of the so-called experts?

Of course, this is not to downplay the role of healthcare workers in fighting ill-health, particularly in these times of the pandemic. Could they just try to at least meet our expectations? Of course we will still rise up and clap in appreciation for them and other frontline workers. Let it be deserved though. Of course we will agitate on the streets of Twitter.

Is it too much to ask that healthcare has a human face? Is it an unrealistic expectation for medics and their colleagues in health facilities to diligently discharge their duties with a human face and positive attitude?

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