Amidst Broken Health System Non-Ebola Deaths Due to ‘Negligence’

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The mother of a deceased man has blamed the death of her son on the alleged negligence of Liberia’s health sector.

Daphne Barnes-Kamara, mother of Abdu Kamara, walked into the offices of the Daily Observer on last Friday and told this newspaper that she took her son to some clinics and hospitals in and out of Monrovia following an accident in July, but he was treated with total negligence.

Mrs. Barnes-Kamara, who described the health sector in Liberia as “poor,” indicated that medical personnel she came across might have thought her deceased son had Ebola, something she emphatically refuted.

Narrating her ordeal, Madam Kamara, daughter of the renowned Liberian Ambassador to the United Nations in the early 1960s, Nathan Barnes, said she returned to Liberia in July upon hearing that her son had an accident and his tail bone had been affected.

“When I came, I took him to the ELWA Hospital for an x-ray and later to the Chinese clinic for acupuncture. His blood and urine tests were done and the white blood was described to be good but he was diagnosed with one plus malaria in the red blood.  He was given medication for that.  After some time of stay at the Chinese clinic for acupuncture, he told me that he was experiencing excruciating pain and wanted to discontinue the treatment,” Mrs. Barnes-Kamara said.

According to her, after leaving the Chinese clinic there was a need to find a hospital where MRI (Magnetic Resonance I) and Orthopedic surgery could be performed, and she and her son went to the Du Side Hospital in Firestone, Margibi County.

“I was trying to find a hospital where they could do MRI, as well as Orthopedic surgery.    The Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital was recommended to me, but we later realized that it did not have an MRI machine.  I took my son to the Du Side Hospital in Firestone, and when we got there, I asked for a wheel chair to put my son in, but the staff at the hospital said he must walk to the emergency entrance where the chair was.  My driver and I had to lift him up before placing him in the wheel chair.  There was no help from the staff and they refused to bring the wheel chair,” she narrated.

She also said that they recommended her son for an x-ray, but the Radiologist who did the x-ray could not explain the result because it had not been properly done.

“Can you imagine the Radiologist could not interpret the result of the x-ray?  Where the x-ray was performed was not comfortable, and therefore the result could not come out good.  The Radiologist only said he believed the result was not a bad one,” she said.

She further stated that her son was taken to the emergency room where his blood pressure was tested.  She informed the medical examiner that her son was weak and needed help to lay him down, but the medical staff there refused to touch him, making her to perceive that they (staff) felt he had Ebola.

Mrs. Barnes-Kamara also indicated that when she met the doctor assigned at the Duside Hospital and narrated her son’s condition.  But they were turned down by the doctor on grounds that he (doctor) was going to meet the President on the Ebola crisis.

“The doctor told me that he could do nothing about my son until September 15 and we were talking in August.  I told him my son did not have Ebola but was dehydrated and needed intravenous fluid, and the doctor told me to take him home and feed him with nourishing foods to recover,” she stressed.

According to her, she also called the Poly Clinic and forwarded her son’s case, but the doctor she spoke to told her to find a psychiatrist, since the son used to walk and no longer does.

“I also called SOS Clinic to help save my son’s life, but they, too, turned me down.  It was one doctor I contacted at the Kingdom Care Clinic and she promised to help my son.  But while preparing on that Saturday to take him there, he gave up the ghost,” said Mrs. Kamara.

Madam Barnes-Kamara said though Ebola is raging and claiming many lives and she empathizes with affected people.  It is, she said, also dangerous for the entire health system to be broken down.  For this, she blames the government and calls for its immediate overhaul to save lives.

“The health system in this country now is very poor, and what happened that led to the death of my son is negligence on the part of medical practitioners who took the Hippocratic Oath to save lives,” she noted.

Mrs. Barnes-Kamara who is by profession herself a Registered Nurse (RN), refuted medical reports that her deceased son  had weight loss for 3 months and his lungs, cardiovascular and abdominal examination were unremarkable, noting that such examinations were  not done by Duside Hospital.

Since the Ebola outbreak most hospitals in Liberia became dysfunctional, and because of the deaths of many health workers as a result of contracting the Ebola disease while giving care.  Many of them (health workers) hardly want to touch a patient when he/she is taken to the hospital, for fear of contracting the disease.

Every patient taken to the hospital now is considered an Ebola patient until proven otherwise, she lamented.

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