By Chinedu Adonu
There was pandemonium at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT Teaching Hospital/ParkLane General Hospital, Enugu, on Wednesday as patients and their relatives protested the poor food offered to patients as well as the poor sanitation witnessed in the hospital as a result of lack of water.
They also protested the nonchalant attitude of medical staff to patients especially those in emergencies which have caused many deaths at the hospital.
Parents of a one-year and three months old baby girl, Daniella Onuchukwu, Mr and Mrs Leonard Onuchukwu, were said to have sparked the protest when they refused to pay the bill given to them, insisting that they would not pay the entire bill because of the meal which neither they nor their child ate because they were not fit, even for dogs.
It was gathered that as the Onuchukwu’s were discharged to continue the medication of their child in Abuja where they returned from, for a burial ceremony in Enugu, they decided to forcefully take away their child.
Security men at the hospital tried to prevent them, which led to an uproar that led to police personnel being drafted to the hospital to quell the din as relatives of patients joined the Onuchukwu’s to protest the poor meals served at the children’s ward.
It was gathered that relatives of other patients sided with the Onuchukwu’s and said that they too would not pay for the meals which the hospital authorities force on every patient whether eaten or not in conformity with the laid down rule in the hospital.
Addressing newsmen before he and his wife were whisked away by the police, Mr Onuchukwu who earlier refused that, over his dead body, he would not pay for the meal they did not eat, said that they were admitted at the hospital on Saturday.
He claimed that if not for the scene he created earlier created, the medical personnel would not have attended to their child that was stooling and vomiting.
“When we were admitted at the hospital on Saturday, neither the doctors nor the nurses were willing to attend to our child that was seriously vomiting and stooling.
“Nobody cared to look our way but when a family rushed in with their child who was my child’s age with bullet wounds and was turned back because there was no space, it was then I started shouting that they should discharge us so that we look for another hospital. It was then that they starting attending to my child and I thank God that she is recovering.
“I am not pissed at all they wrote in the bill which is N29,500, but the one I am insisting that I’ll not pay even if the whole policemen are brought to the hospital, is the food.
“The food they gave us was too poor. The tea looked like goat urine, the rice and other meals they offered were not even fit for some domestic animals and we did not touch them even when they were shouting each time they came that whether the food was eaten or not, it must be paid for.
“I told them that I will not pay and they have brought the police to force me to pay and we will not pay,” he insisted but was eventually persuaded to go with the police.
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The Chief Security Officer, CSO of the hospital, Fidelis Onuduagu, told newsmen that it was the rule in the hospital that meals offered to patients admitted in the hospital must be paid for whether eaten or rejected.
“It is the rule in this hospital that meals offered to patients must be paid for whether taken or not and today must not be an exception. They must pay because this is how others have been paying,” he insists.
Other relatives of patients who left their sick ones at the wards in solidarity with the Onuchukwu’s and to also register their dissent over poor conditions of food and other services, corroborated the Onuchukwus.
“I will not pay for the food when they discharge my child because we did not touch their food but bought food from food vendors outside.
“How can I pay for food we did not take,” a relation of a patient who would not want his name mentioned said.
Efforts to get the Chief Medical Director, CMD, of the hospital, Professor Onah proved abortive because the CMD could only be seen on appointment.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that there is no water in the hospital as there were only water tanks and they are under lock and key. Patients only drink or bath when they source water outside the hospital premises.
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