It was a day that remains etched in my memory and even though it’s been many years now since it happened, I still recall clearly the terror and fear that ran through the cool atmosphere of that evening as they roared in anger.
It was just one event captured in a certain place which depicts the risks that nurses and medics face everyday in the discharge of their duties.
Countless remain unknown because they are unreported.
What actually happened?
It was a calm harmattan evening of 2009, in the female medical ward located on the second floor of the hospital. The woman was an old patient who had been battling stroke and had been admitted for sepsis on a background of upper respiratory tract infection.
The family is obviously wealthy and had on more than 2 occasions chipped in that they didn’t know why their eldest brother decided to bring their mother to this “godam hospital” when they he could have easily been flown to Chicago and given “first class treatment”
They were reassured that the case wasn’t what they thought and that many worse cases had been treated here and recovered very well. There was no need to spend so much abroad when they could get same treatment at home. Moreover, they had a relation working at the same place who was always coming to see mama and they could trust her to know that if mama wouldn’t be getting good treatment here, she would have objected or even advised them to fly her abroad.
She slowly began to get better. Vital signs were within normal range for almost 4 days straight and everyone was happy and the nurses deeply relieved.
Everyone prayed for her recovery and the nurse who was on duty the second night that she went into coma, almost fainted from fear. It wasn’t that she hadn’t handled even worse cases but simply because of her children and their anticipated behavior, should anything happen to her.
On that fateful Sunday morning, the night nurses handed over a not too good looking mama and everyone was charged to ensure strict observation. Why was she suddenly having fever again? Why has the vital signs suddenly disorganized? Mama was 74 years.
Faith was to hand over by 5pm after having had a rough day working with an almost full ward and only 2 assistants.
Mama’s sons and daughter didn’t make things easier by their constant pressure and questions with threats.
The ward head had earlier informed the director and a security man was stationed on the floor. However, fate usually has its way of dribbling us humans, such that when certain things want to happen, you would wonder what happened to all your carefulness and preparedness.
The sons and daughter had all driven off to get home and come back later as they usually did. Security personnel went to the plant house to assist with some little fault in the power plant.
Mama had a respiratory arrest.
The alarm went off instantly and the resuscitation team was there within seconds, joining Nurse Faith and the medical officer who was, fortunately in the ward to book a patient for a procedure on Tuesday.
Mama was not making any progress. The monitors weren’t showing any hopeful signs. After almost an hour of the most aggressive resuscitative response and activity, the doctor asked to stop CPR.
There was no need anymore. Pupils were dilated, no hearts sounds. She was still and cold.
Faith was in tears and at the same time trembling, obviously confused but tried hard to maintain her cool as a nurse. She went into the nurse’s room to pick up extra sheets for documentation when two of mama’s children all came upstairs and the first person they asked for was Faith as they saw the looks on peoples’ faces.
One went to check their mother while the other one rushed into the nurses room and almost strangled Faith. As the poor girl got up, she ran like a mad woman downstairs and they pursued her. She went to hide in the theater downstairs and was sobbing, while the entire hospital compound was vibrating with noise and threats from mama’s children who have all assembled by now.
They accused her of killing their mother. They were cursing their elder brother for bringing their mother to such a place that couldn’t save her. The staff couldn’t say anything to them as they were all on top of their voices.
The hospital director soon came up, as he had been informed about the commotion in the ward. He came up with about 4 security men but they couldn’t take these people out of there. He had earlier been informed of the tense situation and he advised calm no matter how much they shouted.
Another lady who was later identified as their aunt came up and started sobbing in the most heart touching manner. She was their mother’s youngest sister. Her appearance and subsequent actions seemed to calm the atmosphere as the attention shifted to her; they were all trying to calm her down.
They were moving downstairs.
Meanwhile, nurse faith was in the private room, being nursed and given psychotherapy. She sprained an ankle and also had bruised right arm.
Soon, the guys from the mortuary arrived with their stretcher and moved her out of the ward.
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