by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 18 April 2006)
As I read the Kaieteur News article from Sunday entitled, “Maternity ward patients’ horror stories,” my feelings progressed from grief to anger to absolute outrage at how women were treated by the very medical professionals they trusted to safely help bring their babies into this world.
To say that I am appalled by this disgusting lack of professionalism is putting it very mildly. My mother-in-law’s mother died in a similar way over 60 years ago. She had delivered her baby, but fell out of the bed and bled to death before anyone even knew what had happened.
My mother-in-law and her younger brothers were then raised by their father and other family members, but what they needed was their mother. However, that was decades ago and one would assume that no such tragedies would be taking place today. Or at least very, very, very seldom.
Instead, a husband writes a letter to the Editor describing the horrific condition of how his wife gave birth on the floor because no nurse would come to her aid. If that was not bad enough, when the situation was brought to the nurse’s attention (the very person who should have known the situation before anyone else), she gave the husband an attitude and tried to act as if the couple had done something wrong! You have got to be kidding me!
There is no way on Earth that any nurse would have been allowed to skip out on the delivery of one of my children, much less treat me with such abhorrent disrespect. That nurse would be finding him/herself jobless or the hospital would have a lawsuit – or both.
I would just love for one person to write a letter in response to this column in support of the nurses. Is there anyone who can explain to me why these nurses are sleeping on the job while women and babies die during childbirth?
Are the poor nurses tired and need their beauty sleep? Are they working two jobs and can’t keep their eyes open? Are they working double shifts and need their rest? I don’t want to hear even one excuse because nothing – I repeat, nothing – justifies this type of incompetence in the medical profession.
If they cannot carry out their job with efficiency, then fire them and bring in some nurses who will deliver babies instead of sleep. I had someone send me an email recently saying there is a significant lack of good professions from which to choose in Guyana. It would therefore seem to me that a demand for nurses would surely be a welcome sight for those entering the workforce.
For goodness sake, all these nurses had to do was attend to these women giving birth and be there when the babies are born so they don’t fall on the floor. If the police are not expected to lay down their lives to protect to citizens of Guyana during a shootout, does that mean that the nurses are allowed to sleep while new citizens die under their watch too?
When is Guyana going to wake up and realise she deserves better than this?
When I read this article on how women and children are dying because nurses are sleeping on the job, I had just finished another article about the lack of a facility for female drug addicts in Guyana.
It would seem that healthcare for women in general is not much different than it was when my husband’s maternal grandmother died under “medical supervision.” Medical supervision my foot! Those inept nurses might be expected to supervise women in labour, but they are actually getting paid to sleep while their patients die.
Every single nurse who has taken even a short nap while they are supposed to be caring for a patient should be ashamed of himself or herself. Further, any supervisor who has stumbled upon a sleeping nurse and not severely reprimanded the person should be fired instead.
It is bad enough that women are subjected to abuse and rape, treated as second-class citizens and expected to wait on men hand and foot, but to be left alone during such a crucial time when someone is being paid to care for her is simply inexcusable.
Worse yet, those lazy nurses are probably mostly women themselves. If a woman cannot depend on another woman to help during childbirth, then where can women turn? There is no way any such hospital would get one dollar from me under such appalling circumstances.
This issue is of great import given the fact that Guyana’s most precious commodity, the babies, is at risk in the hands of these incompetent nurses. I would go so far as to say that such gross negligence should be illegal if it is not.
When otherwise healthy women and children die under the watch of sleeping nurses, how can anyone deny that a crime has been committed? Certainly someone should be held accountable for the deaths of these mothers and babies.
Moms and dads, let your nurse know right up front that if you find them sleeping or if they do not respond when they are needed, then you will seek action from the hospital. Otherwise, you could be the next victim of a sleepy nurse.