Death over cash-and-carry at Aflao: Family appeals for justice
The family of the woman who died after she was refused emergency treatment at the Central Aflao Hospital over the mode of payment has appealed to government and its agencies to help it get justice.
The family has since petitioned the President, the Minister of Health, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Medical and Dental Council to investigate the issue and bring “the culprits” to book.
It argued that the hospital, popularly known as Nkansah Hospital, in the Ketu South Municipality in the Volta Region, failed to support the burial of the deceased after promising to do so at a meeting with the family.
Linda Adua, 39, passed away on April 11 this year as nurses at the hospital allegedly refused to offer her any form of service because she was unable to pay cash, even though she was willing to pay through Mobile Money (MoMo).
She was buried on September 10, this year.
However, the family alleged that the hospital failed to engage them after an initial meeting where the hospital administration apologised for the incident and promised to assist in any way possible.
Abigail Adua, an elder sister of the deceased, told the Daily Graphic that the owner of the hospital, Dr Gabriel Kwadjo Nkansah, sent a delegation to the family to apologise for the loss, seek an amicable solution and help give the deceased a befitting burial.
She, however, said the disposition of the delegation after that first and only meeting made the family to believe that it was just a facade, as the hospital had cut links with the family since then.
“It was like a camouflage precipitated by media publications and reviews of the circumstances leading to the death of our relative,” she noted.
She said at that meeting held on July 9, this year, the hospital delegation asked the family to propose any help from them for their consideration before the burial, which they did but did not hear from the hospital afterwards.
Message to family
In a recorded audio intercepted by the Daily Graphic, a male voice, supposed to be the spokesperson for the hospital, was overheard saying at the meeting that, “We are representing the Central Aflao Hospital. Our mission is to render our unqualified apology to the family.”
“We know that to lose a daughter, a sister and a breadwinner is not easy. It is actually a great loss. What he has asked me to say is that, we cannot pretend to imagine that you are fine; it is not easy to actually lose a family member in this way”.
“We appreciate that you are going through a lot and he says that we are sorry for whatever actions or omissions on the part of the Central Aflao Hospital (Nkansah Hospital) - that led to the demise of Linda. We cannot say we want to argue out anything here”.
“He wants to say that it is an omission on the part of the hospital from whichever angle we look at it. We don’t want to scratch wounds here by trying to narrate the whole story and apportion blame,” it said.
“We are only here to meet with the family and apologise and resolve this issue amicably because a lot of damage has been caused to the family and the hospital as well.
“At this juncture, we are rendering our unqualified apology in the first place to the family. Lessons have been learnt. If we have acted proactively, we would not have been here wasting your time and causing you this pain. So we are ready to support the family to give a befitting burial to our sister who lost her life through this unfortunate incident.”
“This is the message from Dr Nkansah and the entire facility. We want the family to accept out apology,” the spokesperson of the Nkansah Hospital told the family.
Ms Adua said the family sent a proposal to the hospital later, but they were yet to get a response.
“We sent that proposal to them and it included financial support for the funeral of Linda, a compensation to the family and educational support for the only surviving child of my sister who was preparing to go to the university before his mother died.
“Unfortunately, we have not heard from the hospital since that meeting,” she lamented.
When the Daily Graphic contacted Dr Nkansah, he rudely declined to comment on the issue and hung up the phone.
However, the Medical Director of the Aflao Central Hospital had earlier confirmed to the Daily Graphic that a team from the GHS was at the hospital to investigate the matter.
“The police have summoned us to release the nurses involved for interrogation on the matter, which we have done,” Dr Nkansah said.
Dr Makafui Dagbasu, the Medical Director of the Ketu South Municipal Hospital, the main referral centre of the municipality, also confirmed that the hospital was currently being investigated on the matter.
Call for justice
Ms Adua said justice for her sister would help avert any negligence that could lead to the death of many innocent people.
The deceased’s family petitioned the President, the Minister of Health, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service and the Medical and Dental Council over five months ago but justice is yet to be served.
The only official response the family received was from the Medical and Dental Council which said it had referred the matter to the Nursing and Midwifery Council due to the role of the nurses in the processes leading to the death of Linda.
“We are glad about the efforts of the council but like we have always said, we believe it when the nurses said they were acting strictly on the order of the hospital to not take any form of electronic payment and that only cash was accepted at the facility.
“We think that the nurses should not be the only focus, although they could have added a human face to carrying out that order when my sister pleaded with them,” she said.
Ms Adua said the Council also copied the family the response of the Nursing and Midwifery Council dated July 10 this year, informing the Medical and Dental Council that investigations had commenced.
She said the family was still pleading with all the stakeholders to help them get justice for Linda to serve as deterrent to healthcare providers who treated human lives as though they did not matter and as if money was more important than human life.
“I know a lot of families like ours are suffering in silence because they are voiceless.
Ms Adua said on April 11, this year, Linda asked her 19-year-old son to accompany her to the hospital because she was not feeling well and was also having difficulty breathing.
“They reached the hospital around 4:05 a.m., and were met by two nurses on duty, who requested that they made a deposit of GH¢400 before she would be attended to,” she narrated.
The sister of the deceased added that Linda offered to pay through mobile money transfer but the nurses said electronic transfers were against the hospital’s policy, insisting that the son should go out of the hospital to look for a mobile money merchant and withdraw cash for the payment.
“My sister pleaded with the nurses to take the MoMo and attend to her because it was too early in the morning to find a merchant to withdraw the money, but they refused,” she said.
The family said the pleas of the sick woman and her 19-year-old son could not convince the nurses to accept mobile money payment for her treatment, leaving the patient unattended to until she passed away.
She said Linda’s son later “had to walk from the hospital to Avoeme Junction before getting a motorbike to take him to the Aflao Border - about two kilometres from the hospital - in search of a mobile money merchant in vain.
“All this while, Linda remained seated in a wheelchair in the outpatient department (OPD) unattended to by the nurses. No details of the complaints were recorded and her vitals were also not taken, except her name which was recorded in the patient register at the OPD,” she added.
Linda, meanwhile, had complained of difficulty in breathing and pleaded with the nurses to put her on oxygen.
“One of the nurses retorted that she was disturbing them as she scanned her phone,” she said.
She said Linda, who had then been wheeled to a ward, asked the son to assist her to the washroom, but she fell on the way.
“It was at that point that another patient in the ward, who witnessed the whole incident, rushed out to inform the nurses about what had happened.
“The nurse, apparently sensing danger, told Linda’s son to get a taxi and take her to the Ketu South Municipal Hospital since her situation was beyond their capacity,” she said.
She said the nurses asked the young man to sit in the taxi as they pushed the motionless body of his mother into the taxi, with her head resting on his laps, and instructed him to take her to the Ketu South Municipal Hospital without a referral note or an accompanying officer.
The boy took his mum alone to the government hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
“Just upon arrival at the Ketu South Municipal Hospital, Linda was pronounced dead by the medical staff who said they were sure she had died several minutes before being brought to their facility at about 7:40 a.m,” she said.
Linda lived with her only son in Aflao where she operated a restaurant.