THE unavailability of sufficient operating theater space at the Oshakati intermediate hospital in the Oshana Region is a cause for concern not only for surgery patients but also for the health professionals.
Surgery patients are still being booked, but the waiting list is so long that they have to wait until next year.
However, some patients claim that this is not clearly explained to them beforehand.
Speaking to Informanté recently, 50-year-old Paulina Nangolo said that she did not know that she was placed on a waiting list. She was under the impression that she was booked to undergo surgery on a specific date and her health passport proves that, but when she turned up at the hospital she was turned back without even being checked to determine her current state of health and told to come back next year, but no specific date was given.
She was booked to undergo operation to remove a tumor on an ovary.
“I was told to come for an operation on a specific date but when I came I was sent back. I was neither checked nor given a specific date. I was simply told to come back next year. They determined my health condition by merely looking at my outward physical appearance,” she said before following up with a barrage of questions:
“How do they know that what is inside is not worsening? Should I go back home and wait to be critically ill or possibly die? For how long is this situation to continue like this?”
She stated that the hospital personnel are not being truthful with the patients.
“Before they book and rebook someone they must double check the booking list and be honest with the patient regarding the dates. They must tell the patient that he or she is on a waiting list instead of giving a false date. They are surely playing with people’s lives,” she said.
Approached for comment, Oshakati hospital superintendent Dr. Korbinian Vyzkaya Amutenya confirmed that Nangolo was indeed booked and rebooked only to be told afterwards that the ward was full.
“The booking was done not to create false expectations, but with the hope that those patients already admitted would be cleared beforehand, which often does not happen,” he said.
Amutenya further stated that the unavailability of sufficient operating space at Oshakati hospital is caused by population growth and changes in disease patterns. “All levels of health care are aware of this reality,” he said.
According to him patients are booked but at the same time it is clearly explained to them that the waiting list is full to 2020.
“Some patients understand and take it kindly, while others take it not so kindly and threaten our staff even with suicide,” he said.
He added health professionals are under extreme pressure from the needs of their patients on one hand, and the availability of capacity to meet such needs.
He explained that they are operating on the principal of first come first served, the only exception being emergencies that are handled as they come.
Amutenya said that the best they can do is to exhort patients to be patient, but such exhortations fall on deaf ears because they [patients] are not aware of the difficulties at hand.