By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
Sitting on an iron chair outside the hospital, John Kyen who was at the hospital for medical checkup said there was no doctor on ground to attend to him. He said for the umpteenth time that he visited the hospital, the doctor was not around.
Kyen was one out of many patients at the dwindling Cottage Hospital Dyerok -Chip, a community in Pankshin local government area of Plateau state; where health officials are not on ground to attend to medical emergencies.
He told our reporter that most times, relatives of patients go and look for the health officials wherever they are to attend to them.
“Some of them are very unserious. Whenever there is an emergency, people go to get them from their private businesses or drinking joint. It is unfortunate what we are experiencing here. In my own case I tried to get the doctor but to no avail. I am not always lucky. Now I am considering going to another hospital which is in Shendam local government, about 35 minutes drive from here”.
Inside the hospital, only 3 staff were on duty; a Nurse, Ward Attendant and a Record Officer. They said the hospital has no Dental staff, no anesthesiologist and other major staff required for the full operation of the hospital.
They told our reporter that the hospital has only one doctor, one theatre nurse, 14 nurses and 10 attendants which are grossly inadequate for the hospital.
It was also discovered that the hospital’s mortuary has stopped working for about 5 years and the only Ambulance van the hospital had, also stopped working.
“Patients at the hospital have their bathe outside the hospital because there is no water, no light and the bathrooms are not in good condition”, the Nurse on duty who does not want her name in print because of fear of intimidation told our reporter.
She took our reporter round the hospital and showed him dilapidated equipment that the hospital currently house. “As you can see, no bed sheets. The mattresses are weak and dirty. No drip stand, no functional fan. The roof is licking and no one is saying anything about it. The generator is not working; we are in total darkness here. Also, the hospital does not have a kitchen for people to cook, since it was blown off by wind long ago. The case is more serious during rainy season because even inside the hospital wards, rain disturbs people.”
She took our reporter to where they assembled heap of dirty bed spread. She said they have been there for awhile and no laundryman to wash them. At times when we go to the stream to wash, the people won’t allow us because it is the same water they drink.”
Speaking, one of the residents of the community, Patience Damulak said, “we do not rely on the hospital for any service no more. Few pregnant women died in the hospital while giving birth, due to negligence of the health personnels in the hospital and lack of equipment to carry out the operation.
“That night, we had to go and look for the doctor. There was nobody to attend to our emergency that night. When the doctor came, the generator and the Ambulance were faulty. We decided to take the woman to the neighboring hospital which is about 35 minutes drive away from our community, but she died before we could get there. This is just one out of many cases in this hospital.
“Accident victims are also taken to the same place which is far from the community. It is not easy seeing any hospital around that could attend to emergency cases. This is the only hospital that was serving our medical purposes for years; but now it is just another ghost hospital abandoned by several administrations in the state.”
“The hospital started losing its best hands and equipment since early 2000, when staff stole most of the equipment and left the hospital. Those working in the Lab stole the Lab equipment while the security operatives stole bed spreads. Since then, the hospital turned into something else”, said Longs Maklu, another member of the community.
He added that several governors in the state folded their arms to the critical nature of the hospital, leaving the community to suffer, while its people die all the time.
“We want the government to look at the plight of the people and come to their aid. Our people are suffering. We need a way out of this problem. We want the government to renovate the hospital and equip it to its former standard so that the people will once again enjoy the dividends of democracy”.
On his part, the Long Mhiship, Nda Wesley Mulak expressed worry that the hospitals and other health facilities in the community do not have the capacity to curb any major health challenge.
He said the Cottage Hospital Dyerok which used to be the hope of the people is now a shadow of itself, as it lacks major equipment and personnels to address the health challenges of the people.
“In fact, everything needs serious attention. The hospital cannot address health challenges of the people, owing to lack of equipment. Where there are equipment, no qualified personnels to man them. The hospital currently has only one doctor and few workers in other departments. This is a hospital that needs three doctors and more. The current situation on ground needs urgent government attention to provide help to our people. There are also cases of people abandoning the hospital to seek help elsewhere. This should not be. We want the hospital to be fully operational with updated health equipment and qualified health personnels to take charge so that our people will stop going to other places to seek medical attention.
“Also, there is another mission hospital, in Longkat, where I worked before now. That hospital too is in bad shape. It is not the same hospital that people relied on in the past for quality health services. Based on this, you can see that in this community there is no standard health facility that can help address some of our health challenges. We want the Government to come to our aid and put an end to these challenges so as to save our people the stress of traveling long miles to seek medical assistance.”