Mama Rejoice

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When I was working in a Niger Deltan state capital, I lived close to the hospital. A lady, who I called Mama Rejoice (Rejoice being her daughter’s name), sold provisions nearby. We were very good friends, or so I thought. Each morning, she would call out, “Doctor! “, as I walked past, on my way to work. We would exchange pleasantries and banter about everything. I teased her that her shop would soon turn to a supermarket. She always had the best provisions.

One day, she was not as friendly. She was attending to someone else, so I sat on her bench to wait. Mama Rejoice was a young woman of less than 30 years and her daughter was 1 year old, or so. She started to complain to the other customer, that she was in a bad mood because someone died. They asked her who, and she replied that it was a young man who lived on her street.

“He died because the hospital refused to treat him. If not that they sent him away, he would still be alive!”

They all sympathized with her and asked which hospital was so callous. She mentioned the one where I worked. Being sure to raise her voice with her back to me, she ranted.

“I hate that hospital! People always die there! Their bills are very high! Always asking for cash deposit before treatment”

Ambulance in front of emergency department in hospital

 

As she complained, she pointedly ignored me. It was obvious I was the enemy. She did not attend to me till the others had left. I ventured to ask how he died and she said he took some herbal medication that did not agree with him.

“Maybe his constitution was not strong enough. He didn’t know that it’s not for everybody”, she said .

“What has been done to the person who gave him the drugs?”

“Nothing. It is the hospital that I blame. They love money too much”

I left knowing our friendship was over. When I got to work, I asked what had happened. It was the sonologist who remembered the boy.

“He came here few days ago with a complaint of abdominal pain. Those who brought him did not even have money for his registration. It was I who paid before he saw the doctor. He was asked to stay on admission but left to raise money. The relatives he came with did not offer a dime. He never came back. Shortly after, we heard he died at home”, he narrated.

I wondered why the hospital, not the herbs, was being blamed for this death. Also, where were all these well wishers when he needed money? It is amazing how people pass the buck. One of my aims, is to demystify healthcare, and deliver those who have been poisoned against doctors.

We are only human. Even the governmentcannot treat everyone for free, how much more a private hospital. I cannot tell you how many patients have pounced on nurses and doctors who saved their lives, beaten them mercilessly, and run away when they recovered. You will not believe it. Though the system is imperfect, I hope we will be our brother’s keeper.

When a friend or neighbour is ill, he will need money. This Nigerian attitude of waiting till he dies to contribute to his burial must end. Such monies should go towards keeping him alive. As for Mama Rejoice, I went back to explain what had happened. She wasn’t interested. Rather,she said the hospital had narrowly escaped being burnt down by an angry mob. She said she was one of those who proposed that the hospital be burnt.

“Did you think of accosting the native healer?”, I asked.

“No, she is not at fault. If he had asked questions, he would have known the herbs are for the strong”, she replied.

Dear muse, the bible says not to make friends with a violent woman. What more can I say?

 

NOTE

I know that there are people who have been treated unfairly by shylocks, hospitals that seem not to have human sympathy and I apologize on their behalf. The pressure of keeping up with the joneses has robbed a lot of us of mercy.

That being said, I always tell people there is a doctor for every pocket. Locate the one you can afford, pay him on time, and give him good recommendations.

Thanks for being patient while I was away. Life happens.

Cheers,

Dr. N.

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24 thoughts on “Mama Rejoice

    Susan said:
    March 14, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Sad but true. The bad stories get out easily. The stories about doctors and other hospital staff contributing for indigent patient care rarely gets published from the rooftops, even by the concerned party,
    There is indeed a doctor for every pocket.

    niki said:
    March 14, 2015 at 8:44 am

    ‘This Nigerian attitude of waiting till he dies to contribute to his burial must end’. You can say that again doc. Misplaced priorities. How can she blame the hospital but not the herbal leader?. Anyways, im hoping this was a while ago and people are now more careful regarding what they ingest. Very sad story though!

      drnsmusings responded:
      March 14, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      It will end as we fill the earth with d correct info n not leave it to d charlatans

    niki said:
    March 14, 2015 at 8:45 am

    ‘This Nigerian attitude of waiting till he dies to contribute to his burial must end’. You can say that again doc. Misplaced priorities. How can she blame the hospital but not the herbal leader?. Anyways, im hoping this was a while ago and people are now more careful regarding what they ingest. Very sad story though!

    Side not: hope all is well now.

    E' said:
    March 14, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Hmmmm
    I think you are a PERFECT writer-doctor

    #justsaying

      drnsmusings responded:
      March 14, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      *blushes* *takes a bow* *grins*
      Thanks dear

    kaycee said:
    March 14, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Sigh. It goes to show the kind of responsibility the masses put on drs, sometimes without any Care for their health. Take care of your body, mba. The hospital is to blame even when the patient comes in stage 4 dx. I hope more people are willing to cooperate with their health officers now (even though I can be a very lousy patient).

      drnsmusings responded:
      March 14, 2015 at 11:12 pm

      We are hoping same O! Lol

    TheRustGeek said:
    March 14, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Sad but true – but then it’s the bad, shocking stuff that makes the news most of the time not the good, everyday stuff which gets buried..

      drnsmusings responded:
      March 14, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      I shall unearth d good, so help me God

    Oye said:
    March 14, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    ‘The pressure of keeping up with the joneses has robbed a lot of us of mercy.’ – I wish many ppl can hear n understand this. Diadem introduced me 2 ur blog n I love it already, keep up d good work.

      drnsmusings responded:
      March 14, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Thanks Diadem
      Welcome and thanks

    Anonymous Chick said:
    March 14, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    You’ve made me see things from the Dr’s/hospitals point of view by reading your blog. I was one of those who just couldn’t comprehend how a hospital can turn away a critical case just because they don’t money for payment.

    I read where you wrote somewhere about hospitals going bankrupt if they did so for everyone.

    Nigeria is truly flawed. Emergencies and pregnancies are never turned away in some countries. God help us.

    As for the lady in your story, it’s sad that she didn’t see reason with you. I sha get her point and hope people get well informed on these issues.

    What about govt hosts? Do people get turned away in emergencies if they don’t have money?

      Anonymous Chick said:
      March 14, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      Govt hosps?

      drnsmusings responded:
      March 14, 2015 at 7:54 pm

      Good question. The govt hospital has a provision for FREE car for the 1st 24 hours foreemergency cases. Due to corruption, some of them render substandard services when it is free. Also, d high no of patients overwhelms d staff. So many avoid them n go to private hospitals. Those ones don’t have d purse of d govt so they try to get some money 1st. I have actually nearly been lynched by patients who I pleaded for them to be admitted on credit because when d money was later demanded they felt it shd be free

        Anonymous Chick said:
        March 15, 2015 at 9:42 am

        Oh no! I totally get you.

    Pam Jay said:
    March 15, 2015 at 2:01 am

    “Maybe his constitution was not strong enough. He didn’t know that it’s not for everybody”, she said .
    Hmmm, Mama Rejoice dry blow grammar o!

      drnsmusings responded:
      March 18, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      Ha! She spoke in pidgin O! Na me translate so.

    Pam Jay said:
    March 15, 2015 at 2:02 am

    “Maybe his constitution was not strong enough. He didn’t know that it’s not for everybody”, she said .
    Hmmm, Mama Rejoice dey blow grammar o!

    livelytwist said:
    March 21, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Dr N, this spoke to me: “This Nigerian attitude of waiting till he dies to contribute to his burial must end.”
    I grew up in a town where every Friday there was a ‘celebration’ of death going on somewhere.
    We, the people, must insist that government spends money on healthcare, and we (all of us), should stop stealing money meant for these services.

    Adaeze said:
    August 1, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Exactly! Any time I talk about this, people think I’m heartless. But truth is every hospital whether government owned or private exists to run at a profit, if not how would they pay their workers, maintain equipment even pay their rent or tenement taxes alongside other bills? It’s sad how people who will not sell their goods on credit will vilify hospitals for not treating people without deposit. We should also consider the fact that hospitals are run by human beings like us.
    During my internship at an orthopedic hospital, we had several cases of patients disappearing from the casualty ward after receiving emergency treatment, if it weren’t a government hospital I’m pretty sure they’d have stopped emergency treatment. The situation was that bad!

      drnsmusings responded:
      August 1, 2015 at 10:52 am

      More than that, they beat up anyone who tries to stop them

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