When The System Fails, Dreams Die and People Die.
‘Is he dead?’ My brother asked as he slowed down and diverted into the other lane.
There laid a man in the middle of the road on the cold dark grey tarred road, he was motionless as a couple of people gathered around him, and cars diverted and zoomed off, nobody did anything, it was dark and the street lights in that area were not on.
‘Why is no one stopping?’ I asked naively as though I haven’t lived in this country most of my life.
‘Can you help him’? My brother asked. I affirmed and mentioned it depended on his state. My brother parked the car a couple of meters away from the scene. My heart sunk in, I couldn’t tell if it was fear or the zeal to do something.
Now the big question, should we step down? This could go south in seconds and yet I could save his life or at least try.
For a second, fear gripped my heart as the hippocratic oath raged in my ears, even though I’m not licensed in this country, I’m still a Doctor.
The other car door opened and mine followed, one step after the other. We approached a group of men who lamented about the incident. The air smelled moist, they said his brake must have failed as he collided with a parked vehicle.
The second I heard he was still breathing, there was no turning back. I crossed the road with my brother, by then they already moved him beside the street lights in the middle of the road.
There were about 10 bike men who were trying to find his phone to call his family but, all they could get was the battery and suggested the phone might have been stolen or lost during impact. They also mentioned they had tried to stop cars for help but no one stopped to help and one can’t even blame them.
He was breathing but his pulse was weak. My heart raced faster by the second, I knew he might be in shock and suggested we take him to the nearest federal hospital.
I asked if anyone there was willing to follow us, my voice shook as I voiced that out.
Luckily, someone volunteered. I monitored the transfer from the roadside into the car.
We drove as fast as we could, I called a friend of mine who worked in the federal hospital to inform him about what happened.
‘Repeat yourself, Temi you did what?’ he asked as he freaked out, he wondered how I managed to get myself in such trouble.
Yet, his reaction didn’t make me feel I made a bad decision, instead I realized there had been no evidence of what had happened, no video or audio.
Quickly, I put on my voice recorder and asked the man who came with us to recap what happened. He did and that was when I realized that the custom’s office was much farther to federal hospital than I thought it was.
Finally we got to the hospital, as we entered the gates, the man said ‘O da bi eni wipe emi ti fe bo la re e’, ahhh, emi wo,hold it o! ( It’s like he is about to die).
At that point, my head started to ring. I realized we couldn’t drive straight to the front of emergency because there were roadblocks, there were a couple of cars that seemed to be waiting, I jumped down as a couple of house officers directed me to the consultant in-charge, I introduced myself and he assessed him and disappeared for a couple of minutes. I could hear wails of pain from different cars around us. After about 10 minutes, they let us drive to the front of emergency.
What’s the next thing? They take him and attend to him right? But that wasn’t the case, I was greeted by social service, who spent the next 20 minutes inquiring what happened from me and my brother, I could see the doubt in her eyes as she asked question after question to determine if we were the perpetrators or just good samaritans.
Luckily for us, you remember the man that followed us from the scene of the accident? He basically bailed us out as an alibi. Next thing? Take him in right? Definitely not!
The social worker was trying to get him to wake up or at least be conscious enough to give the number of his relative, he bled all over the shirt of the man who came with us to the hospital and over the car seat. I went into the hospital hoping the nurses would be kind enough to give me anything, but again I forgot where I was. They told me I wouldn’t get anything until I was instructed to pay.
The social worker came back after an hour trying to explain to me that they were out of bed space and they needed to free up before he could be taken in.
After another thirty minutes, she came back to tell us that not being able to reach for his family was a problem because who would pay for his treatment. That moment, I saw the system crumble right before my eyes, this is how people die. The doctors around looked at me like a baby whose bubble had been bursted, they went further to say that they know that if they ever get involved in a road traffic accident, that would most likely be the end for them. How do they stay in a system that does this?
All this while, no one has examined him. He drifted in and out of consciousness as I realized there was only one consultant on duty. One consultant? The social worker said that it’s the norm and it’s meant to prevent friction. Friction when people lives are concerned?
About another hour after, I heard screams from where we were initially parked, someone just died. The family member kicked and tossed and my head spun. How can we call this a system? This seems abstract if you are looking at it from outside, it seems not as bad until you are right there, looking the system in the eye as life and death hangs in the balance.
About thirty minutes later, the social worker stepped out again, every time I see her face, I just hope this is the time they take him in, but it isn’t.
She tells me that even though we are willing to cover his bills, they are currently out of oxygen which would be paramount to sustain him. She said she would try her best and disappeared into the crowd of the ER.
I paced back and forth as sitting was no option, I was helpless and couldn’t do anything. I wanted to cry, wanted to scream. I watched doctors stretch to the extreme and everything falling back on the system.
Another forty to forty-five minutes after, she walks up to me and says ‘You might have to take him to the state hospital, we might not be able to take him.’
Eh eh, at this point I was flipping, they can’t be serious! Is this a joke?
‘You have to be kidding, you can’t what? We’ve been here for over three hours, you didn’t say anything. Now, you’re telling me to take him to the state hospital which I don’t even know where it is located and I don’t want to.’ I said in a ‘y’all are about to go crazy’ kinda tone.
‘Well, it’s just that we are trying but..’
I laughed as I interrupted her,
‘ There’s no problem, now this is what I’m going to do, I’ll go live on instagram and facebook, I’ll have the two people with me lift him out of the car and leave him in front of the hospital. Then, I’ll let the world decide who has the moral responsibility between the hospital and I .’
‘No No, you can’t do that.’ She said as she watched my face closely for signs of bluffing.
‘ Hmmm, oh you watch me.’ I said seriously as I grabbed my phone and started prepping for the worse.
She headed back inside in hope to try again. About 33 minutes later, I couldn’t tell when the tone changed, but I started hearing praises left and right as they thanked us for our bravery and compassion and started to apologize for stressing us despite our altruistic act, in no time, they took him in.
This didn’t stop them from tossing me left and right for payment to different places, until a man who probably worked in the administrative department of the ER angrily withdrew the papers from me and made it the duty of the nurses to sort it out.
They made me fill their good Samaritan form as though that was meant to make me feel good. My brother cleaned the blood from the car seat.
At least, he would live but why don’t I feel relieved? Why am I still angry? I was still scared, everything was scary, it was annoying. I couldn’t see the benefit of a country that won’t prioritize healthcare. How do we keep up with this? Even in the midst of doing this, I was reminded multiple times that we could have been arrested on our way to the hospital or even be handed to the police by the hospital. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, but the fact that it could have is baffling.
I went to bed that night wondering if I would do that again, I wasn’t sure until I woke up the next morning to a word from God:
‘And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.’
Now, I know I can hardly drive by without doing anything but I really hope I don’t have to.
I don’t feel brave, I feel sad, disappointed and ashamed, because I know an enormous number of people must have died because someone couldn’t stop to help or the hospitals were not equipped enough to save their lives.
The least we can do is stop to help in numbers, we all can’t be arrested. And we have to hold our leaders accountable for a better healthcare system, but how does this happen? How do you do this in a country that has fallen?
THANK YOU FOR READING.
THIS IS A TRUE STORY, I HOPE AS WE ALL STEP OUT WE CHOOSE THE RIGHT THINGS; WE CHOOSE RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY AND HOPEFULLY BECOME BETTER PEOPLE WHO BUILD A BETTER NATION.
YOUR OPINION MATTERS!
WRITTEN BY: MARIAM ALAYANDE
ART BY: HARMONIA