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Predictable woes

…when I had to stay overnight with a family member at a private hospital in the city

Predictable woes

Last week, I had to stay overnight with a family member at a private hospital located close to the entrance of DHA.

My woes were predictable.

The shift to the room was a long process, made even longer by an elaborate game of peek-a-boo that the staff seemed to be playing. It was close to midnight and every few minutes, I would have to check the front desk for updates. Each time someone who was integral to the process would go missing and a search party would have to be sent out. Eventually, the manager, trying to look every bit professional and hands-on arrived, apologising profusely and, in fact, overcompensating by complaining to me about his staff.

“I have been called back because of the staff’s negligent behaviour,” he said, fumbling with room keys as we went door-to-door to check which one was free to accommodate us.

I asked him firmly to figure things out quickly because the payment for the room had already been made and the patient needed to be shifted. I told him that I had been informed that it would take around half an hour to have the room prepared and I had been waiting for over an hour.

With that, I returned to the OPD to check up on my relative. After a while, news arrived that the room was finally ready and a wheel chair has been brought in to take them. But the IV drip which had run dry by now needed to be removed to make this easier.

I had merely turned around to look for a nurse or a doctor to do the job, when in my peripheral vision I saw crimson drops splatter all across the floor and the bedspread. A member of the cleaning staff had already done the needful.

I was seething with anger.

“Who asked you? What are you doing? This is not your job!” I shouted.

Later that night, none of the promises materialised. While the cleaning staff never came, the mosquitoes did arrive to ensure I stayed vigilant. And I had been worrying all this time about dozing off!

The doctors and nurses, startled by the ruckus, and done with workplace gossip rushed to check what had happened. After some basic-level damage control and trying to reassure me that this would not happen again, we were finally shifted to the room.

And what a sight the room was! Stained bedspreads with holes in them, dirty pillows, a filthy wash room and a trash bin up to the brim with garbage.

We would get clean bedspreads, sheets and pillow covers the next day,  the washroom would be cleaned soon and the trash bin emptied, we were assured. This led to another skirmish with the management about the utterly deplorable conditions of the room and the hospital at large.

If more than an hour of cleaning and fussing had brought the room to its current state, I shudder to think what it must have been like before.

Later that night, none of the promises materialised. While the cleaning staff never came, the mosquitoes did arrive to ensure I stayed vigilant. And I had been worrying all this time about dozing off!

By afternoon the next day, the manager was back and came to check up on us. My relative was a lot better and would be discharged soon. I narrated my entire experience to him painstakingly, not missing out a single detail.

“How had an employee, not part of the medical staff, mustered the confidence to remove a patient’s drip? Surely, it wouldn’t have been the first time this had happened!” I lamented.

“Well you see, that’s wrong and I’ll take care of it. But even when I take my own children to the hospital, I do not lose sight even for a second,” he replied.

Infuriated, I retorted that I understood exactly what he was doing and that his staff was incompetent, confused and obviously acting with impunity, and any attempt to shift the blame for any of these things onto those who accompany patients made them shameless and smug on top of it.

At the time, we had also discovered that the emergency bell in the room was not working. An engineer was soon on the job and he did fix it by the time we were on our way out.

The episode ended with numerous mosquito bites (and the dread that comes with those) and me congratulating the manager on the hospital’s remarkable business model. By keeping things as they were, they had perhaps ‘unwittingly’ been creating demand for their services, for God knows how long!

“We could use machhar-maar spray,” he offered.

“That wouldn’t go well with your banda-maar policies now, would it?” I replied.

Enum Naseer

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The writer is an assistant editor at The News on Sunday.

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