Kwame Sherrif Awiagah, The Author

So a probable preventable death of a 70 year old Late Mr Anthony Opoku-Acheampon (May your soul find peace) finally caught the attention of our arm chair house of representatives, thanks to the Media. As a house full of learned people with different categories of professional experiences, one would expect a much more reassuring approach different from what individuals with little or no information over issues post on social media in their one corner.

However, my feathers got wet hearing the speaker giving directives for emergency departments to receive very sick people in chairs, wheel

chairs and trolleys and further directing the house to pass a law that criminalizes any clinician who could not attend to a patient for lack of bed.

How could one have faulted the speaker who has no idea what goes on in the public health sector, how could one fault him when he might not even have to pay a visit to our filthy emergency departments, how could he be faulted when he doesn’t have any medical background.

The speaker ought to have however asked himself, how comfortable will he be sitting in his chair for over 24hrs even in a healthy state, how he would feel seeing 70 plus years President Akuffo Addo sitting in a chair for medical services? Our speaker and his house is so weak that, they couldn’t try a directive to have the fully equipped and yet withering health facilities to be commissioned for public patronage as an interim measure to counter the phenomenon of no beds. They opted the easy way, blame it on the clinicians, demonize them and incite the public against them

The Speaker couldn’t have been faulted but do we not have medical doctors and Nurses in parliament or is our speaker a dictate who gives directives without consultations?

The more shocking to this is the re-echoing of the directive by the Director General of the Ghana Health Service. A Doctor with very much experience with medical practice, a director with all the consultants and information on health facilities at his disposal was too much in a hurry to pay lip service to the aggrieved public just to downsize the magnitude of the problem while shifting the systemic failure on the clinicians.

As a technocrat who ought to serve public interest the least he could have done was a tender assurance of finding ways to resolve the age long canker.
Just so the public understand, patients who need emergency services come with different presentations and different energy levels dependent on their medical conditions and age.

There are those who come to emergency in very ill state yet they could still make do with available wheel chairs (most of which a worn-out and have become metals), plastic chairs or trolleys. These are the people who could benefit from emergency service using the chairs etc. Even those people still have to suffer a great deal of time waiting (most of the time for more than 24-48hrs) for another patient to either die or be discharged to create a bed space. Another major challenge to this group is that clinical assessment (examination) becomes overly impossible because it is impossible to assess a sick person holistically in a sitting. A lot of patients and their relatives have very bitter experience to this unfortunate issues, and in fact most of the time even the few trolleys, wheel chairs and plastic chairs get exhausted. Yes that is the sad situation.

Now the Second group are those who come very sick in a Taxi or Private car yet there is no bed, this patients may either be too old to bear the burden of sitting, they maybe semiconscious, unconscious, confused, restless, convulsing, and psychotic or their state requires special positioning as part of their treatment regime. This group of people will most likely be sent out after been triaged and no immediate threat to life is identified. (Remember conditions change however) because their care begins with lying in bed.
The third group, these are patients of same characteristics as the group two patients.

However they arrive at the emergency unit with either a privately owned ambulance or National Ambulance. For these patients, agreement will most likely be reached to keep the ambulance trolley for the patient’s resuscitation or sometimes resuscitation is done in the ambulance to stabilize the patient. This however is not always the case because not all ambulance paramedics subscribes to this arrangement.

The public should thus know that clinicians at our emergency departments are not randomly posted to the departments. They are recruited and posted there based on a sense of responsibility, vitality and empathy towards the dying who could be saved just by doing the right thing right. As human however, no one can bite more than they can chew.
The problems of our health care systems are not clinicians but the policy makers.

And hey, the next time you meet a dying patient either a total stranger or an acquaintance, drive straight to the nearest health care facility, don’t underestimate the smaller once when it has to do with saving lives. They’re also Doctors and Nurses.

Our health staffs deserve better
Awiagah Sherrif Kwame
Public Health Advocate

About Kwame Sherrif | Columnist

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