At Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, patients scatter helplessly on floors throughout hallways, corridors and stairwells. Because space is limited, a nurse there says, patients have flooded and spilled out onto the facility’s car park, where they sleep and receive treatment amongst mosquitoes and other elements.
Kobby Blay, a registered nurse at Korle Bu, told Joy FM's Super Morning Show that the situation there is dire. He’s certain the number of deaths within the hands of the hospital could have prevented if space and proper equipment were available.
“We may have lost more lives than needed because of the lack of resources,” he told the morning show host, Daniel Dadzie.
A patient covered in IVs sits in a hallway at Korle Bu
Kobby Blay recalls he noticed a problem brewing following the death of a 70-year-old man who was turned away at LEKMA hospital in Accra. The hospital said that, at the time, the facility was at maximum capacity, and did not have space to treat him. The 70-year-old man died subsequently. Since then, the Health Ministry has ordered all health facilities to admit everyone, regardless of patient volume.
Korle Bu is "overwhelmed," Blay says, who acknowledged that “some patients sit outside with their IV fluids stuck in them. The place is full. The beds are full. The corridors leading up to the restrooms are filled. Patients in bad condition are sitting on the floor.”
Angered, he shared photos of conditions there and posted them on Facebook. Those photos have since gone viral.
You don't want to get sick in Ghana if you don't have a lot of money,” one commenter wrote. “Terrible experiences.”
“This is a crowded place,” said Dadzie while sifting through the photos. “Even if this [crowd] was waiting at a bus stop, it would be uncomfortable.”
Blay agrees. He says as a health professional, he’s distraught because there is only so much he can do.
“One of the basic things in providing healthcare is that you must not do harm to patients. Unfortunately, we are doing harm to these patients and their relatives.”
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Those relatives, Blay says, run the risk of transferring infections back into their communities, spiralling the situation out of control.
One patient's mother lamented that because Korle Bu is choked, her ailing daughter has had to sleep underneath a stairwell on hard concrete outside the facility.
“Something has to be done. I brought my daughter here Sunday. She sat on the floor until 11:30 pm,” adding that the hospital is “overwhelmed by our numbers. It’s not their fault.”
Her daughter has since been transported to another hospital because her “condition is deteriorating.”
Because of lack of space, one patient is resorted to lying on the floor at Korle Bu
Meanwhile, up North, Joy FM’s Erastus Asare Donkor is reporting a similar scenario at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, the only referral centre for the northern part of the country.
“You sense the frustration in the eyes of the doctors,” he said. “Sometimes I wonder how the doctor’s work. The smell alone in that room is something else.”
He continued that on a busy day, the scene there is chaotic. He recounts witnessing a patient’s family member being trained on how to manually hold their relative up so that the patient could breathe.
“In life and death situations, resources are limited.” Asare Donkor said.
"The place is full. The beds are full. The corridors leading up to the restrooms are filled," says Kobby Blay, a registered nurse at Korle Bu
According to health personnel, beds are available but they lack mattresses, so patients must resort to lying on cardboard, where they develop sores and other infections over time, Asare Donkor said. Doctors become exasperated because they know they can help, but the equipment needed is not available.
Back at Korle Bu, Mustapha Salifu, Korle Bu’s public relations officer, told Dadzie that a new and improved emergency response centre is set to open by the end of the month. Promises to open the centre in May failed because they had to “go through the Ministry to get approval before we can get the contractor to come to the facility.”
Currently, they are in the process of painting the walls, setting up equipment and training staff, he said, adding that while the new centre won’t erase all their problems, he is sure it will bring some relief.
Deputy General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association Titus Beyou told Dadzie that the healthcare system in Ghana is in critical condition, and he urges that the public demand better emergency care.
“How is it that the nation is satisfied with just 54 ambulances?” he cried. “The situation has become the norm. If lives are relevant then new practices must be put in place immediately.”