Two parents who had frightening experiences at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi have given a grim account of how babies are exposed to deadly infections at the hospital.
Mrs Arthur and Mr Owusu Ansah shed tears when they recounted the struggle their families had to go through during and after the birth of their children and the incidences that led to their deaths.
Both parents were speaking on the special edition of Joy FM’s Super Morning Show and Joy News’ AM Show which are being broadcast from KATH to mark the screening of the maiden edition Special Assignment, titled ‘Next to Die’.
The documentary tells the story of how pregnant women in labour who patronise the country’s second biggest referral centre, queue and wait for their turn to deliver babies they might never even see.
Mrs Viviene Arthur had her baby at the Magazine Clinic in Kumasi. Her baby got burnt after a nursing assistant nurse defied a doctor’s instruction not to give the baby a bath.
Initially, she was not informed about the development, when she inquired about the whereabout of her child, she was told the baby was unwell.
The baby was transferred to the Mother and baby unit of KATH for treatment before she was informed about it.
“They didn’t tell me anything on the first day but they told me the baby wasn’t well, so they had sent him to the MBU [Mother and Baby Unit at KATH.
“I had the surgery on Wednesday, Thursday evening the doctor summoned me and said he had something to discuss with me”, it was only then that she was told that the baby had gotten burnt while a nurse gave him a bath.
The shocked mother asked how this could have happened, especially when she overheard the doctor give specific instructions that the baby should not be bathed.
“Why, what happened,” she asked bewildered. The doctor’s response was, “Well, I don’t know, the nurse gave the baby a bath and now the baby is burnt.”
Mrs Arthur, who was yet to heal from a Caesarean section, now had to make a daily trip to the MBU – all by herself – to feed her baby who had been bandaged from neck to waist – including hands.
“It was tears all over, I couldn’t just open my eyes,” she recalled.
There was no bed for her at the MBU. Upon instructions from doctors, she had to stay and feed her baby, exclusively, all day in a sitting position.
Her situation was treated with some form of urgency because the incident occurred at the hands of a doctor who worked with KATH.
“The place was just too much, even getting a chair to sit on and breastfeed was difficult. I had to stay throughout the day and sometimes when I am tired, I will come to where the nurses sat to rest.
“You have no place to lay your head, I sat the whole day for 11 days. You couldn’t have a shower and there was no restroom,” she added.
Because Mrs Arthur did not have a ward or a bed at the facility, she would always return to the Magazine Clinic when she retires at night.
She did not lose her baby but she said she is always thankful anytime she relives the moment.
Sometimes she drove back to the Clinic at midnight. No accompanying nurse, no ambulance.
Mr Owusu Ansah, on the other hand, lost two babies at the MBU of KATH.
He told hosts Kojo Yankson and Mamavi Owusu-Aboagye his first child was a baby girl, delivered on February 16, 2013.
His wife was unable to go through normal delivery due to the weight of the child, so she had to go through a caesarean session.
After the delivery, the baby was kept at the MBU and he could visit every three hours.
Mr Ansah said on his first visit, he could not recognize his child. She had been put into an incubator with seven other babies.
He complained but nothing was done about the situation. The next day, on his visit, he was told that his child had picked up an infection that needed to be treated.
“I did not understand,” he said, adding that he complied regardless and ensured that all the necessary medications were purchased for the child.
“On the fifth day, I asked about the condition of the baby and I was told that the baby would be discharged.
“That very day that we were discharged, I travelled but later I got a call informing me that the baby had died,” he recounted.
Mr Ansah and his wife were blessed with another fruit after a year. However, due to the past experience he decided not to take his wife to KATH.
When his wife was in labour, he took her to the South Suntreso Hospital. Upon arrival, doctors at the facility told them, they could not handle the situation and referred them to KATH again.
“At that particular period, I was in a dilemma, to go or not to go because what I saw at the MBU was very worrisome.”
But he went to KATH anyway, and after a normal delivery, the baby was transferred to the MBU again.
The now very apprehensive father was uncertain of his child’s fate. But in the absence of any options, he obliged and prayed that the story would be different.
It wasn’t. He recalled that the first day he went to the MBU with his child, he saw bed bugs in a baby’s cot.
Again, the baby was kept in a cot with six other babies.
“On the third day, I was told again that my baby has had an infection and I asked why. So initially, I thought it was negligence on the part of the staff, but it was later that I realized that the place was choked.
“But I realized there were about 100 babies in that room and I asked myself how could the nurses take care of all of them.”
Mr Ansah’s child was discharged after a week. They were supposed to report periodically to the hospital for observation.
A day before their appointment, he said he noticed a change of behaviour in the baby.
“I realized that the temperature of the baby was very high. So when we sent the baby the next day, she was admitted.”
She was sent to a separate ward and given a cot. But after a while, he was asked out of the ward to allow other women time with their children.
Later that night, Mr Ansah was called and informed that his child had died.
He was given no reasons.