Resting his jaw on his left palm while flicking his eyeballs from side to side that hot afternoon in front of the tiny shop, it was not so difficult to feel the grief racing through his mind. Though over three weeks since that sad experience, Akeem Fatai, a petty businessman, has been unable to fully overcome the pain and stinging feeling it has left behind.
Since January 6, 2020 when he rushed his wife to the Ikorodu General Hospital – a government-owned facility sitting on several hectares of land in the heart of Ikorodu town, one of Lagos’s fastest growing suburbs – life has not remained the same for him and his entire household. The episode has in fact opened a new chapter of anguish for the family.
That fateful morning, his wife, Fatima, who was seven months pregnant at the time, felt a sharp pain under her stomach. Moments later, she noticed water sliding through her private part. It was a familiar sign. The couple wasted no time in seeking medical help. On the advice of a nurse, the woman was encouraged to undergo a scan and then approach the Ikorodu General Hospital for urgent intervention.
In a matter of minutes they found their ways to the health facility. But events that followed soon left a bitter taste on their lips. Rather than immediately attending to her being an emergency case, Fatima was offered a sit inside the unit and thereafter abandoned to her fate for over four hours. In such precarious state, it was the least type of treatment she needed. But that was only a flash of the real trouble that awaited them.
“Immediately we arrived at the hospital around 11:00am, we were directed to the emergency unit where we expected that she would be quickly attended to but that didn’t happen,” Fatai said as he recalled events of that fateful day. “The nurses on duty asked us to wait but immediately turned away from us.
“I and my wife appealed to the nurses to attend to her but we were ignored despite her terrible condition. Nobody attended to us until 5:00pm when a doctor showed up.
“While the doctor was checking my wife, a nurse told him to ignore her and attend to the person she had just brought into the ward, claiming that the woman was her sister.
“Shortly afterwards, we were sent out of the emergency ward and asked to pay N10,000 for my wife to be admitted.
“They took her inside the main ward after much delay and again abandoned her all through the night,” the father of two added.
‘Operation deliver on your own’
By the time he returned to the hospital the next morning to check on the well-being of his wife, terrible things had happened. The baby had died inside the woman, putting her life in grave danger in the process. Pleas for the nurses to help deliver her of the dead baby were completely ignored. Fatima was forced to go the entire mile alone. The yet to fully recuperate woman told SaharaReporters that she still can’t believe that she made it out alive from the health facility.
“There were many times that I feared the recklessness of the medical staff would lead to my death while still at that hospital,” the heartbroken woman said while fighting back tears. “After being taken into the main ward, I was abandoned on the bed until 6:00am the next day when I started feeling signs that the baby was about to come out,” she continued.
“I called on the nurses to assist me in delivering the baby but they refused. They told me that they don’t usually assist women in delivering babies, that I should do it by myself. It was like a death sentence on me but I summoned courage to push out the baby all by myself.
“But at that time, the baby had died and I had lost a lot of blood.
“I again begged the nurses to help remove the placenta but they refused and abandoned me for over one hour until a young doctor came to my rescue. Without that doctor showing up that moment, I am not sure I’d still be alive today because I had grown very weak at that point,” Fatima added painfully.
Look more, see less
But if Fatai and his bruised wife thought that was the end of their bitter ordeal at this Lagos hospital, they were wrong. What soon followed opened their eyes to the recklessness of medical staff at the facility and reinforced a deep-rooted scheme of corrupt practices that had gone on for years at this government-owned hospital, jeopardising the safety of patients and their loved ones in the process.
Despite the loss suffered by the couple, hospital staff inflated the original medical bill of the woman by several percentage and also made a bizarre demand before she was cleared for discharge. By several standards, it is one of the weirdest requests and or extortion ploy anywhere on the planet.
“On getting to the section where I was to pay the bill, one female staff rushed towards me and presented me with a total of N38,000,” Fatai cuts in, his face growing red. “I was alarmed but since there was no one I could complain to, I went out to look for the money just so I could take my wife out of that place.
“When I returned to the hospital the next day, a young doctor on duty at the time made me understand that my correct bill was N11,800.
“I explained to him that one of the nurses had earlier given me a bill of N38, 000, he told me to ignore and not fall for their corrupt antics, that my correct fee was what he had shown me.
“After gladly paying that amount and returning to the ward to fetch my wife, another female worker approached me and said I had to fulfill one of their traditions by paying for one month’s GOtv subscription for the ward.
“I thought I didn’t hear her clearly the first time until she repeated the same words. She even said that relatives of other patients had paid and that I was the only one whose family member was to be discharged that morning who had not paid.