I’m booked for an appointment today at a government hospital, to see a consultant. To this end I have to obtain permission from work. I get to the clinic before 8am in order to avoid any delays. I notice the ward maid is issuing two different sets of numbers so I walk up to him, explain my case and he gives me a number from one of the sets – Number 10.
I go to post my card at the Records section and I sit patiently. The guy working in this unit comes in maybe around 9am or so, and starts to work at his own pace. After waiting a while, I walk up to him to find out what’s the delay and he says I should just wait for my turn. Well… My turn ends up coming around say 10:15am, over an hour later, I’m supposed to be the third or fourth person on the queue, by the way. What is even more annoying is the fact that the guy finally approaches me and says my folder is not in his unit. He asks me to check the last unit I visited, after waiting this long. I brace myself and repost my card in another unit which means another round of time wasting, even though it is a bit faster this time, twenty minutes later kind of faster. Now let’s go back to where we were before I digressed.
After waiting for ages to hear my name, I walk up to the nurses who are supposed to be checking vitals, to enquire what is causing the delay and I’m told that they’ve gone past my number a long time ago. What’s more, I get to find out that I was given a number from the wrong set (recall that there were two sets of numbers). This is getting interesting.
“Madam, what do we do, please?” I ask.
“Ehn, I’ll have to give you the next available number so that we can be organized, there’s nothing else I can do. Don’t worry, you may even end up seeing the doctor first,” she replies reassuringly. She quickly issues me another number, 24!
“Please I was here before 8am and I’m supposed to be at work today, I have some important deliverables,” I plead.
“Ah, Oga this is a public place oh, you can’t go to work today. Any day you come here, just strike out that day,” she tells me.
Frankly, this is the most annoying statement I’ve heard this year, but I let it slide. I can’t fathom what gave her such a terrible idea. How can you just assume that anybody that comes to your clinic has nothing else to do with their time? We’re all supposed to leave our businesses and keep you company the whole day? I don’t know where that came from but it’s simply wrong.
She checks my blood pressure and says it’s a bit high. Please how is my blood pressure supposed to be normal in the midst of all this chaos? I think to myself. As though that was not enough, I still have to wait for another three hours to finally get to see the doctor. Just when I think I had seen the worst of it, my name is finally called and I walk into the consulting room. The doctor who attends to me apologizes and informs me that the consultant I came to see is currently not on seat, and that’s why she’s attending to me. I’ll have to come back in two weeks time. This means repeating the same sequence of activities and what’s more? There’s no guarantee that I’ll meet the consultant when I come back again.
In total, I spent just over five minutes with the doctor. No new drugs prescribed. I’m to continue the old ones. This is after I’ve spent almost six hours at the clinic, coupled with the fact that I’m unable to get to work anymore. My deliverables? Tossed to the wind, of course. Imagine there are persons whose work depends on what I had to do at the office. Their work is also delayed, and the next sets of persons in turn, and the next. See the ripple effect?
Now think about it, what if the guy at the Records came to work in time and did his work as expected, without having to drag his feet about it? That way, he’d have detected in time that my folder was not in his unit and my folder would have been sorted out faster. What if the ward maid had listened to me more carefully, knowing that any mistake from him would amount to a huge loss of time for me? What if the nurses had been more meticulous in following the order of numbers and ensuring that people who arrived first were served first? What if the consultant had been available when he/she was supposed to be on seat, knowing fully well that people would be trooping in to see him/her today, and their time is precious to them too, because they also have other important businesses to attend to just as he/she does.
Okay, what if he/she actually could not be available for a genuine and official reason but the hospital management, knowing the value of people’s time, found a way to reach out to all those concerned to reschedule their appointments? That way, my blood pressure would probably be normal. I definitely wouldn’t have spent endless hours waiting to see someone that wasn’t available. And I didn’t mention that I had already paid a non-refundable consultancy fee, and some additional fees too. I’d have been able to deliver my work as at when due, and this time, it would have been a positive ripple effect.
I felt really bad, walking out of the hospital today. I couldn’t find a better way to vent my anger, which is why I decided to let it all out on my keyboard.
Written by Murphy Ochuba
IT CAN ONLY GET BETTER….
Author’s Note: I have absolutely no intentions of putting down government hospitals, or nurses, or doctors, or anyone for that matter, by this post. I don’t know who needs to see this but something needs to be done urgently to fix the system. It’s not just in Hospitals, a lot of other government parastatals have the same modus operandi and this is really unhealthy for the system. Even some of us who work in private establishments are guilty of this in one way or the other. Let’s learn to value other people’s time in this country. This is not something we need the government to do for us. It’s a habit that we need to consciously form as individuals, if we must move forward collectively as a nation.
I’m just a concerned Nigerian.
Thanks for reading!