Veronica arrived the hospital, praying under her breath that the child she was carrying would make it. He had bled profusely, despite her best efforts and was still not making any sound. The lady who held his head in her lap, Ekemini, was crying. Despite Veronica’s attempts to reassure her, she kept on wailing that she was meant to watch the child and would be blamed if he died. Already, she had called his mother who had taken permission at work to head to the hospital, hoping to meet them there.
The gate man opened the gate for Veronica and she sped in. Alighting smartly, she shouted for him to summon the orderly with the trolley. She put on her white coat which had been hanging in the car and wore a pair of gloves. When the orderlies arrived, she assisted them to carry the boy out.
“Be careful, his leg is fractured,” she warned.
It was then she observed that no nurse had followed them out.
“Where are the nurses?,” she asked.
“The ones on morning shift have not come and the night nurse is still busy,” an orderly replied.
She fumed silently as they wheeled the boy to the emergency room (ER). It had been tough for her to exert her authority in the 2 weeks since she resumed. The staff seemed to resent her. Most of them had been there longer than she had and she doubted that her uncle had been strict with them. They came late to work and left early. Patients were treated like a nuisance or ignored till they issued threats. Even the orderlies, cleaners and cooks took all sorts of liberties. On her 3rd day, she walked in on a laboratory scientist making out with the cook in the kitchen. The hospital was a mess.
Dr. Nigel had owned the hospital solely. He was a general surgeon. The other doctors he employed were fresh out of school and they worked 2 shifts a day. A consultant Physician, Peadiatrician and Gynaecologist came 3 times a week for special cases. The hospital was a 3 storey building with 40 beds. It was in fair condition despite it’s income reducing drastically in the 2 years he battled with cancer of the lung. You see, Dr. Nigel was a chain smoker who rushed through his surgeries so he could lock himself in his office and light up.
When Veronica showed up, the most senior doctor in the hospital, Dr. Korede, was the 1st to antagonise her. She tried to win him over by assuring him she wasn’t out to thread on toes but before she won that victory, the matron, Mrs. Ngwanu, joined the “make Veronica’s life miserable” team. They hid case files to embarrass her, told patients she was incapable so they refused to see her, made snide remarks when she walked past, and just kept the tension in the air palpable.
She was between the devil and the deep blue sea. Fire them and be branded evil, besides losing the benefit of their experience or keep them and never assume full authority in the place. She went home with a headache every evening, unsure whether to just quit and return to her residency training in Port Harcourt or to go on her knees and beg them to co-operate with her.
At the ER, she lifted the boy to the couch and began to set up an IV line for him. Ekemini remained by his side, moaning in a low voice and appealing to God for help. Veronica worked quickly. Already, she had called an orthopaedic surgeon to come in. She had a list of numbers to call in such cases. The Xray technician was to come in at 9am so there was little she could do but to put him on fluids, start an antibiotic and pain reliever, and leave him in the care of his chaperone.
After washing her hands, she made for the nurses’ station to find out who was on duty. It was Kasarachi, a particularly sarcastic girl who she suspected was having an affair with Dr. Nigel before he died. That was the only way she could explain her boldness. At least, she was 4 years younger so she could not pull out the age card.
Kasarachi was in the changing room making a call. Veronica stood there politely, waiting for her to acknowledge her presence but she did not. She turned to head to her office.
“Excuse me. Do you work here?,” a voice stopped her in her tracks.
She turned to face a man in his early thirties. He was of average height, handsome and built, dark, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. The 1st thought she had was that no responsible man would be so casually dressed at 8.30 am. He probably had nothing doing. Immediately, her forehead furrowed into a frown.
“I am Dr. Veronica Metu, the director,” she informed him.
“Good morning. My name is Jeff. I came to see my aunt who had a baby last night. She has been ringing for the nurse but no one came,” he said.
Veronica was deflated. Her staff had let her down again. Turning smartly, she headed for the nurses’ station to confront Kasarachi. Jeff followed her silently. When they got there, she was still on the phone, putting some items into her bag. Veronica did not know what to do. She turned to apologise to him.
“Don’t say anything, ” he whispered at her back. “Take out a letter-headed sheet and start writing her sack letter. She will drop that call”
Veronica was shocked but she saw that his advice was sound. She scooted close to the nurse and took out a sheet from under the counter. Making sure she could read what she was writing, she began to adress a sack letter to her. She ended the call abruptly.
“Dr. Is there any problem?,” she asked.
Veronica ignored her.
“Ma?,” she repeated.
“Go and attend to that man’s aunt right now and when you get back, see me in my office! ”
With that, she marched off to her office, paper in tow. It was when she got there that she realised that she had not thanked the man. She had no time to worry about that as she had to find the doctor who had been on call the night before. Dialling the number for the call room where he would be, perhaps, freshening up, she leaned back in her chair.
The phone rang but he did not answer. She decided to call his mobile number.
“Hello, where are you, Dr. Jike?,” she asked when he answered.
“I am on my way home”
“Why did you leave when I called to tell you I would be late?”
“I have something to catch up with”
“Did you do a ward round?”
“No, I assumed you would do one”
“Did you at least check on the newborn baby and her mother?”
“She should be fine. The delivery was smooth. No tears, no bleeding, no complications. That reminds me: we have an asmathic patient in ward 3. Our supply of aminophylline is out so I asked the nurse to tell you”
“Which nurse? Kasarachi who is too busy making calls? You should not have left knowing you had such cases and the person on duty is irresponsible, ” she scolded lightly.
“Let me call you back. I am driving,” he ended the call without further explanation.
Veronica stared at her phone aghast. She wondered if she had it in her to captain the boat she was in. At the moment, she felt like a minion among sharks. What was she going to do?
To be continued. Click on the title to leave a comment