Blames Hospital for Brother’s Death

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Re: Open Letter to Management of North West Region Health Directorate and Oshakati State Hospital

1. Allow me sir to bring my disappointment and dismay on patients’ management (supervision), care and treatment at the above-mentioned Hospital especially at Ward sixteen (16), which falls under your direct control.

2. On the 09th November 2007, my younger brother Pineas Karuru Atshipara, a well known patient of ward sixteen was admitted to the said ward of Oshakati State Hospital. The developments and conditions which led to him being taken to the hospital were clearly made known and explained to the nurses as well as the head of the aforesaid ward.

3. The contact number was left behind to the staff members that they inform the family if he by any chance managed to escape, as he has become a habitual escapee from this ward due to lack of supervision. It was also made known to the ward management that he was living dangerously because as of late, he always preached how he does not appreciate and enjoy life anymore, and is advocating means to take his own life.

4. They were also told to be extra careful with him because he has already attempted to commit suicide, a fact well known to them as he was brought to the same Hospital. As far as I know, my brother has never been discharged from this Hospital even when he was in high mental confusion or disorder, and he has always managed to escape.

5. On the 14thNovember 2007, five (5) days after he was admitted at Oshakati State Hospital he was found dead in my parent’s mahangu field at Ekuku in Okatana area some few metres from their house. The Hospital did not inform us that the person had escaped as per the arrangement made, neither did they take it upon themselves to look for a patient who was supposed to be under their care. We find it very difficult to accept the irresponsible conduct and negligent handling of my younger brother by your nurses, which I strongly believe led to his death.

6. On the 14thNovember 2007 my sister who did not learn about the bad and very disappointing news went to visit him at the Hospital, just to learn that he was not there and nobody could provide a concrete reason why he was not in the ward. My father also went to the Hospital and was told that he was discharged on the 11thNovember 2007, while some nurses said to him that he ran away on the 12thNovember 2007. Ran away! What a term to be used by a professional.

7. I believe you now understand our anger and disappointment which have left us with no other option but to challenge the unprofessional conduct by your nurses and seek answers to what has led to my brother’s death.

Conflicting statements and dates were given as reasons for my brother not being at the Hospital where he was brought for care and treatment as he was sick and could not fend for himself.

8. The most painful discovery is that nurses at Oshakati State Hospital have a don’t-care attitude towards the patients. Five days have passed and nobody from the Hospital bothered to inform the family that the person has escaped. If they did not have telephone services at their disposal, they could have gone to the Municipal Offices which is a stone’s throw away from the Hospital. My father could have been reached as soon as possible as it was an emergency.

9. I wish to state that this is one of many cases reported in the local media of patients dying while in the toilets, patients escaping only to be found dead, but Oshakati Hospital Management has always remained mum without making any formal apology to the affected family or the nation at large. It is so inhumane if the people responsible to guard against the loss of life are the ones who are reluctant to abide by their code of professionalism. Oshakati State Hospital under your management has become a national disgrace and changes are urged as a matter of urgency.

10. I would like to warn that the nation is watching with an eagle eye as this has become a national issue and soon we as a nation will demonstrate against your hospital. Today, it is Atshipara, tomorrow itt is Mwatotele, and I am therefore urging the Namibian nation to unite and support one another and bring Oshakati State Hospital to order before it becomes a complete national disgrace which could prove hard to remedy in the near future.

11. Take note that we do not appreciate loss of life but we enjoy, appreciate and cherish human life regardless of how those human beings are presumed to be at your Hospital. It seems you and your management have lost sight, senses and do not know how precious life is, otherwise you could have brought in changes to remedy the negative impressions hanging over Oshakati State Hospital.

12. We bring patients to the Hospital to be remedied; resurrected while under the care of your presumed professional staff members who in most cases are found wanting to perform their duties. References to this are out in the open and clear to everyone to judge. Patients escaping from the hospital to their dubious death. You and your management should either admit that you are totally incompetent or your management is dysfunctional as the hospital is in disarray. This has led to you as a Head unknowingly undermining the Government of the Republic of Namibia’s objectives and commitment to uphold and keep healthy life.

13. I would like to put it straight that the communities of the Northern Regions and the entire nation are crying, crying for the lack of service and commitment at your hands. I am very much sure that someone is employed and being paid to take care of the patients. You as a Doctor and your nurses should know very well that a mentally ill person needs extra attention and care to avoid any unbecoming behaviors. This is contrary to what they are given at your Hospital which has resulted in them escaping. They are not counselled that they appreciate the value of life or feel loved, but are normally discouraged by the conduct of your nurses towards them.

14. I am very much disappointed and shocked at how my younger brother met his final destination. I am definitely convinced that this is not the first case and there are many similar cases which remain untold because the affected families do not know how to channel their complaints. Please the Namibian nation, let’s speak out for a change. Therefore, I would like to strongly advise that changes should be instituted before it is too late. Drastic measures need to be implemented to improve the service delivery and efficiency at the Hospital or else, soon you will see that door out never to come back again.

15. You should as well be cautioned that we will not stand idle while we lose brothers, sisters and loved ones due to the negligence of responsibilities by the nurses of Oshakati State Hospital. We will soon seek legal advice that families be compensated for the loss of life as a result of negligent conduct by nurses if no improvement comes out of this.

16. We will always look upon you to give answers. If you are not aware, you will soon be blamed for feeding our Government to the enemy of progress and peace because the picture around Oshakati State Hospital is very ugly, bleak and discouraging.

17. Last but not least I demand a thorough investigation in the escape, discharge or running away of my younger brother from the Hospital which has led to his death as the cause remains undetermined as per the copy of the death certificate in my possession. I also wish to state that I hope and trust that this serves as an eye opener and will result in positive changes being brought up at the Hospital. The nation is watching.

Jordan Atshipara Windhoek
CC: Honourable Alex Kamwi, Minister of Health and Social Services
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Social Services

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