Patients in a Doctor’s consultation queue discussed issues of medical aid, poverty, deaths and social frustrations as they await their turn at the accident and emergency section of the Princess Marina Hospital last week Friday.
It took between six to eight hours on average for patients to be seen by the doctor. Below is some of the conversations as captured by FRANCINAH BAAITSE.
Pink slippers: This queue is not moving. I’ll die from this pain.
Shawl: What happened to you?
Slippers: A pot of mealie-meal fell on my operation wound and it is now swollen and painful.
Blacksuit: Pardon me! I am just curios as to how a pot fell onto your belly. How did it happen?
Slippers: I was removing it from the stove. The next thing I slipped and fell. I did not want to spill the mealie-meal because the children had waited for so long for supper. So the hot pot landed on my operation wound.
Black suit: It must be painful.
Slippers: Uncovering her tummy and exposing a very big scar. This operation had been stitched and re-stitched eleven times. It was first done here in Princess Marina hospital. When I came for check-up they failed to remove the threads. I was taken to Bamalete Lutheran hospital where the operation was reopened and stitched afresh.
Slippers: Yes they did. But it was even more painful because the doctors made a mistake. When stitching the wound they mistakenly sewed it together with my intestines and stripes as well. I could not walk from the pain. It was terrible. A week later I was rushed to Princess marina hospital where the operation was opened again to loosen the stripe and intestines.
Wig: You are crazy! It is not you who is talking but rather the pain. You think you would be alive if your intestines were ever pierced with a needle? Just be quite you are making my condition feel worse than it is. Move a bit to that side my leg is aching. I think it is broken.
Slippers: I can’t move.
Wig: So how did you get here if you can’t move?
Slippers: I was brought by a nurse from Block 9 clinic. She dropped me off here and she went back to the clinic. She said I would find my way back home. She knows I cannot walk, but she dumped me here and told me that I have to join the queue in order to register before the doctor can call me for consultation. I did not even bring money for a taxi, but the ambulance is gone. I don’t know how I would get back home. I left my two children alone. The other one is two and the other is three.
Wig: That is illegal! You cannot leave minor children alone. Why didn’t you ask someone older to watch over them?
Slippers: I am only saying that because I know my eldest son would leave them alone. I left them with him, but come evening, he would be gone. The poor children would be left with their 13-year old school going sister. If I am admitted, it means she would either leave them alone in the morning or miss school.
Nurse Assistant: Calling from the far end of the queue. Next patient please. Whoever is waiting here, go back to the bench otherwise I would leave you and do other duties. If you don’t do as I say, you will have to wait for longer hours as I move to the other section where I am needed.
Slippers: She is telling the truth. She will disappear and we would have to wait here if we don’t comply. I know them. They don’t know what emergency is.
Red scarf: Nurse my daughter was involved in a car accident on Monday. I was left here by an ambulance and I don’t know how I would get back to Molepolole at night. Since the queue is not moving I have decided to go back to catch the last bus. This child is hungry as well.
Nurse assistant: Takes the child’s medical card and writes, “mother insisted to go home without medical assistant” and laughs. Have a peaceful journey.
Black suit: I should have gone to Bokamoso private hospital. Maybe I would have gotten better service there by now. I have been waiting here for six hours and help does not seem to be near and this is supposed to be an emergency unit. Just look at this woman here. She has been silently whimpering in agony. She is obviously in pain and the nurses are walking past. We would all die while seated in these uncomfortable benches.
Wig: Go to Bokamoso. You are wasting your time here. If I had money I would not be waiting here.
Black suit: I have to do a scan here before I go to a private doctor. That way I would not have to pay too much.
Wig: I agree with you. Thinking of it. These medical aid schemes are ripping us off. Look how many of us here are on medical aid, but we are queuing here simply because we do not have hard cash to pre-pay for a private doctor’s services.Our government should do something. I pay P565 every month at BOMAID, but I was told that I have to pay for the scan and claim later. Where would I get the money? I have already paid for it through the medical scheme, but it appears I am going to die before I utilize it.