Oxygen Shortage At KATH Emergency Centre Kills 5 In 7 Days

The emergency centre of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi which is described as the "centre of excellence" is now a death trap, killing five people in seven days, senior doctors at the facility have suggested.

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A letter written to the Chief Executive of the Hospital and intercepted by Myjoyonline.com indicates the facility is lacking basic logistics, including oxygen needed to efficiently run the institution.

So dire is the situation that the doctors have become “shells of horror,” who are “unable to endure the constant psychological assault they encounter daily.”

Dr Michael Leat Chairman of Komfo Anokye Doctors Association (KADA) who wrote the letter to Chief Executive stated that the facility is no longer fit to accommodate patients including family members of the doctors in the likely event of an accident.

The doctors would not want to be used as “instruments of morbidity and mortality” because of an ill-functioning emergency ward which once used to be the Centre of Excellence.

The state-of-the-art National Accident and Emergency Centre, with a helipad on the roof, was built at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi in 2008 to serve as the nation’s main referral facility for accident management.

The Centre with its four other components including a modern pathology unit with laboratories; a 280-individual-cubicle mortuary; comprehensive expansion and refurbishment of the Specialist Out-Patients-Department (OPD); supply and installation of modern equipment and spare parts and consumables for maintenance; was funded wholly by the Government at a total cost of about 75 million euro.

This was done through proceeds from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Fund and the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

Some eight years later the facility is said to be reeling under a depressing culture of maintenance and begging for basic logistics to save lives.

The complaints about the debilitating nature of the facility is not coming from patients but from doctors who could no longer endure the long suffering of a bad maintenance culture at the facility.

In the letter headlined state of emergency services in the accident and emergency centre said the “once touted flagship of our centre of excellence is fast becoming a death trap for all and sundry.”

Detailing some of the challenges the facility is going through, Dr Leat said there is “lack of readily available and sustainable oxygen.

Oxygen is inextricably linked with life hence, its absence speaks of the stench of death. “Just a day ago, five patients in the unit of the emergency department died because their oxygen supply was cut off suddenly.”

“A health centre without a constant and reliable supply of oxygen is very worrying and dangerous.”

The doctors also raised issues about the cash and carry system and hitches with the blood transfusion which are killing patients even faster than the pain from the accidents.

“Cash and carry system of emergency drugs: the status quo currently is for patients [to pay] upfront for all services in the hospital including emergency drugs and laboratory investigations.”

The doctors find this particularly worrying because most victims some of whom are transiting to other regions may not have their relatives on hand to pay for drugs which unavoidably will lead to their deaths.

The doctors say the patients are also made to pay upfront for blood transfusion which they find problematic.

“As doctors we are sick and tired of presiding over deaths,” Dr Leat said in the letter intercepted.

The doctors hope management will, without delay address their grievances and save lives.

When Myjoyonline.com contacted the Public Relations Officer of KATH Kwame Frimpong, he said he was not privy to any such letter by KADA.

He would not speak to the content of the letter except to say that as a hospital they face some of the challenges all hospitals face.

He however denied the assertion that facility lacks oxygen, stating that there is a private supplier of oxygen to the emergency.

Mr Frimpong said he would have to check with management about the existence of the letter and would officially react to the matter.

Source: MyJoyOnline.Com

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