Health workers use proxy to bare frustrations on avoidable risks of infection they are subjected to at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital where three VIP coronavirus cases died in five days.
Against the Hippocratic Oath, it was impossible, last week, for former Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMH), now Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH), Port Harcourt, to conceal the identity of three Very Important Personalities (VIPs) who died of suspected coronavirus within five days.
The facility, one of the isolation centres equipped by Governor Nyesom Wike, now appears as the preferred destination for VIP cases in Rivers.
On May 25, news filtered in that Amaehwule Anele, Director of Treasury at the State Ministry of Finance, had died of the pandemic at the place.
Three days after, Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration (EDFA), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Ibanga Etang, and Chairman, Asari Toru Local Government, Odiari Princewill, who were both announced dead, were also said to have been patients at same Covid-19 facility.
Princewill was buried in the Port Harcourt cemetery almost immediately by health officials fully clad in Covid-19 PPEs under supervision of the state Health Commissioner, Dr. Princewill Chike.
Test result for the NDDC EDFA turned out negative the day after he had died.
Gloom, however, hovered on the suddenness in the case of the NDDC EDFA where the rumour mill buzzed on alleged extraneous premeditated causes due to the external and internal heat the commission’s Interim Management Committee faces.
The development at the RSUTH facility also bared frustrations of medical staff members who had to use a proxy to protest unavoidable risks of infection they were being subjected, due to alleged unsafe actions of the authorities at the hospital.
A lecturer at the Federal College of Education (Tech) Omoku, Prince Ernest Masi, raised questions over the level of commitment to standard practices and safety of medical staff on the frontline in handling Covid-19 patients at the RSUTH.
Ostensibly standing in proxy for disturbed staff too afraid to speak against protocol and risk sanctions, Masi raised the alarm on Sunday, May 24 to draw attention of Governor Nyesom Wike to perceived sabotage of his efforts against the spread of Covid-19 in Rivers.
He alleged, “Doctors, house officers at former Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMH), now Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH), are crying because of unsafe acts.
“A patient, Amaehwule Anele, Director of Treasury at the State Ministry Finance, presented signs of coronavirus few days ago.
“Rather than do preliminary examinations and place the patient appropriately the way his treatment should be, the management placed him in a private ward at the female section of the teaching hospital.
“In that place, nurses, house officers and doctors were going in and out. Doctors in protest said ‘isolation centre has been provided in this facility. Let’s treat this man in that section because of the signs that are evident’.
“The management refused because they said the patient was a top government official and they could not dehumanise him.
“The management decided to risk the health of nurses, doctors, house officers, everybody including patients already on admission.
“About three days after, the man is confirmed coronavirus positive.
“The question is when medical staff members are out in that kind of risk in a government hospital, what becomes of the people on the street?
“The governor must commence investigation into this development immediately. The management must be held responsible.
“Governor Wike has done his best to provide an isolation centre at the hospital. It’s the responsibility of the management to ensure anybody with telling symptoms is treated in the isolation centre.
“The day following, the patient passed on”.
The hospital management and state government have yet to respond to the issues and development at the facility but the Medical and Dental Consultants of Nigeria, MDCAN, Rivers State Government Hospitals Branch, rose in defense of the CMD.
MDCAN vote of confidence in the CMD and attested commitment to standard practices at the RSUTH, signed by the Branch Chairman, Dr Simon Uriah, and Secretary, Ebbi Robinson, stressed, “The said patient was duly isolated from others in a private ward awaiting result of Covid-19 test in keeping with NCDC, FMOH and Rivers MOH guidelines.
“The story that doctors, nurses and other health care personnel were rejecting patients and protesting is emphatically untrue”, they said in a statement.
“This is the time to encourage and support health workers who are on the frontline in the fight against the pandemic.”
Meanwhile, the bigger issue remains the overwhelming challenge of tracing numerous contacts of these busy VIPs to guard against the spread of the pandemic in Rivers where the increasing figures are already a source of worry to both government and the populace.