COVID 19 and Private Hospitals Savior or Savage?

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By Dr Yeraeifirae S. Assefa

Last month ESAT Aired an investigative video of complaints raised by hospitalized COVID 19 patients at Hallelujah General Hospital, one of the emerging state of the art hospitals, that charged a “hefty sum”, comparatively to other local General Hospitals!
Raised Issues on ESAT

  • On this interview, the interviewers, behind a closed curtain, raised issues they faced!

Most sentences ended with“አይመስለኝም”
(Aymeslegnem; I don’t think so)
In plain view this simple word, might seem innocent, but behind it, carries a double sword that is really dangerous; which leads patients to not trusting their health care professionals and the health system!
“I don’t trust the hospital!”
“I don’t trust whether he’s actually really a doctor”
“I don’t trust he actually needed the medicine they prescribed”
“I don’t trust she was alive by the time that they said that she was”
This simple distrust raised on the interview; that distrusts the hospital’s medical ethics, the health professional’s professional ability and in general the hospital, can tomorrow collapse the entire health system! As trust, is a core of the economy, it is none the less for the health!
How to solve it?
Mentioned repeatedly during the interview, the attendants speak how they were not able to see their loved one’s in the COVID quarantine room. But, it should be known that, Pre COVID Intensive Care Unit patients attendants are prohibited, or kept to maximum minimal, so to decrease Hospital Acquired Infections. Post COVID Treatment Centers and COVID ICU’s, both governmental and private, have banned all patients! So, this is not specific to Hallelujah, but remains true, as a country as well!
So, the question have to be, how we can mend this strict regulation and the urge for attendants to see their loved one’s during their difficult period? As the end of as the Chinese say,
“规矩是死的,人是活的” “ Rules are rigid, man is flexible”
Thus, how can we give a patient’s attendant to view the patient while not actually entering the COVID Treatment Center?
Options 1. A see through mirror option
Options 2. Video call facilitated through WiFi
Options 3. As practiced in the Operation Theatre’s for medico legal issues, it’s possible to have a video camera in the COVID Treatment wards and ICU Units
Option 4 Attendants should be updated of the status of their loved one’s at all times
An updater, preferably a General Physician, so to elorquately explain the disease process, should be available at all times, and transfers proper information from the Senior Medical staff present to the attendant!
Actions that should be taken by different media professionals to inform the General Public

  • In the service sector, there will always be disappointment, but as those dissatisfied patients exist, there’s also a huge of pool of patients who were appreciative, had their loved one’s saved and most important of all, are the living proof’s that received the treatment! As for health care there’s no other better proof than, the living ones!

What does COVID treatment really looks like?

From continuous care due to the unavailability of an attendant, a typical COVID care is holistic! From feeding to Sith bath’s, COVID Care is more intensive than our common patient care!

  • A typical COVID Routine, includes donning and doffing, which means changing in to and out of, an expensive use and throw PPE, every time a health care professional enters and exits the COVID Unit!
  • Health care professionals in COVID Centers, are paid a hefty sum, which’s still less, compared to the risks and marginalization one takes!
  • Most of all, medical equipments world wide have soared, due to the huge mismatch in demand and supply! Ventilators nearly quadrupled, ranging from 980,000 birr for a basic function ventilator to 1,800,000 million ETB Hamilton ventilators!
  • COVID Treatment Centers had to also remodel their infrastructure to meet the requirements, some like Hallelujah had to install a different elevator and create new COVID Surgical Theater! Yanet COVID Center, which recently joined in Addis Ababa’s growing health care providers, from it’s well known base of Hawwasa, had to provide a brand new dialysis unit to match the need for COVID Patients, that either urgently need dialysis or were on dialysis prior to acquiring COVID 19!

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgerize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.”
William Bernbach

  • We urge all Media Professionals to be aware of the health system and COVID Care in specific
  • All media professionals, at the end of the day, are humans in the society! They feel the pain, anger and happiness of the society, because they are the society!
  • If Hallelujah General, Ethio Tebib General, Adama General, Betzata General, Yerer General, Amin General, Silk Road General, Yanet COVID, Saglan General Hospital’s… and all hospitals, be it private of governmental, that are trying their best to deliver COVID Care for patients or other health care for patients during COVID, which has also been difficult to do so, weren’t available, patients will flee to Kenya and Sudan, Dubai and Turkey, in charted planes, spending much more millions of much needed foreign currency!
  • Private care is still in it’s minor stages in Ethiopia, lacking much far behind other East African countries, be it due to to the weak private health insurance, lack of finance to support emerging technological advancements, it has still carried a major load of the country’s health system! Punishing the sector, which achieves so much, by so little, closes the hopes of many, who inspire to leave their prints, more than seeing it as another typical business sector!

To patients

  • COVID 19 Pandemic has brought havoc to the world, and those in every sector have been affected
  • Sectors that have been affected, affect employees as well
  • Thus, economic soaring and rise of life expenses globally has touched Ethiopia as well
  • In a world, where Ventilators price have soared, oxygen supply and demand have been harshly incompatible, it’s only logical to fear COVID 19
  • Our loved one’s has passed, as much as your loved one’s has passed
  • COVID 19 has taken something from all of us
  • In the midst of all this seeking care to private organizations can be difficult.
  • We urge all patients, past, present or future, to reorganize and commit to insurance plans for all health issues, and we’re working tirelessly in providing insurance advantages in partnership with insurance companies, so that the out of pocket payment can decrease, thus, wouldn’t be double burden; to be sick and to allocate the finance to treat the sickness

Insurance Companies

  • We urge you, before it’s too late, to start COVID Insurance plans for the General public and contribute at this difficult time!

How committed is the government?

  • No greater efforts and commitment has been made in East Africa, than by the Government of Ethiopia and MoH, be it in the purchase of additional ventilators, but also not being limited to purchase, it has waived the duty on any COVID related item, has encouraged many manufactures to produce PPE, COVID Testing Kits, Masks and last but not least Oxygen productions.
  • In addition to this the Ministry of Health still has also put a significant working force into testing and curbing the pandemic.
  • In addition to the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture through it’s microbiology labs, has been providing free and accurate COVID tests through out the country
  • But still, the gap can not be filled in an African nation such as ours, by only the government alone! Thus we urge the MoH to start discussions with Insurance Companies to avail Insurance plans for COVID Treatment and create an economic ally feasible way for everyone to pass this dark days!

On healthcare providers

  • Healthcare providers have been on the frontiers of this pandemic facing a giant with all the might they have.
  • They’ve worked day and night, to provide quality care to their patients
  • They’ve risked their lives and should be treated as a soldier and nothing less than that
  • They should be given seats in busses, first spots in lines, medals of honor, but last but not least, respect for there undeniable love for treating their patients in this turbid days!

Dr Yeraeifirae S. Assefa, MBBS is CEO, Saglan Wajee General Hospital you can reach him via mulatawaji@gmail.com