What about a smile and word of reassurance?

Diploma in Nursing?

By Mona R. Babajee

Sometime back I heard on the radio that the President of the Nursing Association wants the Nursing Certificate to be replaced by a Diploma in Nursing, by the Ministry of Health. Sir, would a Diploma or a BSc in Nursing make a better nurse? What I will write in this article is my own experience and what I have experienced. Please bear in mind I am not putting all the nurses in the same basket because most are really good and carry out their duties diligently. Unfortunately, there are some who do not know plain and simple bedside manners and nursing care.

In September 2009, I spent five weeks with a septic toe in two surgical wards at Dr Jeetoo Hospital followed by a week in a private clinic (my son realizing my plight had to come all the way from the UK to give support and foot a bill as long as my arm. Without him I don’t know how I would have ended today). In the first ward (gynaecology) where I spent five days, I heard a Health Care Assistant (HCA) during the course of one night addressing an elderly patient calling out ‘Eh bouriya’ in Bhojpuri, meaning ‘Eh old woman’. That old lady is someone’s wife, mum, gran, aunt. It’s alright calling them nani or dadi, which is common practice here, it seems. In the second ward, one day I couldn’t get out of bed as I’d been to theatre that afternoon, had a huge bandage on my foot and was in pain. At 5.10 pm, after supper, I very politely asked a student nurse for a bowl to clean my teeth and she said: Later.’ After ten minutes, I said:’You won’t forget me.’ At 5.25 pm, she was all dolled up and was on her way home. At 5.40 pm, I asked a HCA and she said: ‘Wait for the night staff,’ — though she was just walking around doing nothing. Upon all those refusals I tried to get out of bed but I nearly slipped and would have fallen flat on my face. I couldn’t very well spit on the floor, could I ? So while rummaging in my locker, I found a sac 50 sous, which is a small black shopping bag, brushed my teeth, spat in it and shoved it under my bed until the following morning when I threw it in the bin.

There were little things which I found appalling but which a layman won’t notice or realize. What I cannot understand is if a patient is asking for a ‘bassin’ or bed pan and is wearing a ‘couche’ or nappy, the nurses will say ‘faire ladan même’ meaning pee in the nappy. If the patient is asking for it which means she still has her faculties. Is it easy to pee thus? Are we here to encourage incontinence ?

Next tell me, do you think a patient has to beg for an injection of pethidine which is a strong analgesic when she is back from theatre after an appendectomy, for instance? No, the patient doesn’t have to howl in pain and beg, for the medication is there — just make use of it.

I stayed at Dr Jeetoo on two more occasions in the past, under the care of Drs Ah Kion and Oozeerally and I had no complaints. My late mother had a major operation which was carried out by Dr Daureeawoo and he was superb. I gave roses when I had to and will give bricks if needed.

These few lines below have nothing to do with nursing but only about the state of our hospitals and the treatment. Last year in April, I had awful problems with my stomach or should I say ‘maladie manger’. I went to England in June, had some blood tests and given appropriate treatment as I had caught a very nasty bug. My son’s GP suggested a gastroscopy once I’ll be in Mauritius. In August, armed with all my results, I went to hospital but I was told the machine was out of order and will be repaired in April this year.

I think in 2010 I read in Defi Plus about a young woman living in Tamarin who had been complaining about stomach pain for a year and was just given tablets thinking it was epigastric pain. Whether she was ever referred to a specialist I am not sure, but I do know she went to a private clinic, forked out Rs 5000 and had a scan. Then they found out she had cancer of the stomach and worse she was two months pregnant. How she would have undergone radiotherapy and what happened to the fœtus, I don’t know.

I kept having abdominal pain, had lost weight though I eat like a horse and my physician Dr Jugessur in his wisdom ordered an echography, this February. Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam created a welfare state where supposedly we have free medical treatment. About two weeks ago, a doctor suggested in a newspaper that the government should charge Rs 10 for every medical card, which I think is fair. And after every stay in hospital, I am only suggesting a sum of Rs 25- Rs 50. If people can afford to buy a packet of cigarettes which cost over a hundred rupees daily, surely they can afford such a minimal sum. And beer and alcoholic beverages are not cheap. Then maybe we’ll get a better service, all those broken down machines and scanners could be repaired and we could buy more wheelchairs.

Some people can afford to go to private clinics and for others their insurances will pay their bills. But others do go because they had or have no choice, like me for instance. This is 2012 and I hope things are better than in 2009. I also know we have good medicines in our hospitals and it’s up to the doctors to use them. I am talking about myself and the situation I was in. It wasn’t funny. My sons, bless them avoided a catastrophe and instead of them being grateful for their upbringing, it’s me who will always have to be grateful to them. After all said and done, we have to thank our hospital workers because, where would we be without their care and dedication? Still, a smile and word of reassurance can make a world of difference to the patient and it costs NOTHING.

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Durcissement de la Loi

On Friday 18 May, I heard on a private radio that Pravind Jugnauth had a press conference and is asking for a durcissement de la loi regarding law and order. What do you mean by durcissement, Sir? What kind of durcissement? A mollycoddle durcissement? A longer stretch of porridge paid for by taxpayers’ money? Who are you trying to soft-soap? In August 1995, Sir Anerood, who was then Prime Minister of the land, abolished the death penalty because of Sir Gaetan Duval. The end result of that decision is all around today (supposedly it can be brought back, if necessary). But who will bring it back? Will Paul Berenger, your partner in politics vote for it? Who will bell the cat?

There has to be a referendum and it should be left to the population to decide, not for politicians. Before the general elections of 2010, you shouted from rooftops that once in power, you would introduce capital punishment but you came and went like a damp squid instead and we never heard you commenting on this topic. Sorry, you are rather late in the day, so kindly spare us all this talk about law and order.

Our country has taken a turn for the worse and there is no remedy for this disease. For hundred other diseases yes, but not this one. On the other hand, if you think you can bring it on the straight and narrow, good then.

I live in fear, we live in fear but do You live in fear, Mr Jugnauth. My husband is always sur le qui-vive at night. Dr Navin Ramgoolam also mentioned capital punishment in the past and we all know he will never bring it back, because if he does, PMSD will leave him high and dry and drop him like a hot brick…

If the death penalty were still in force, young Stacey Henrisson would still be alive today. Mrs Ducray from Beau Bassin and many others. What a sad loss of lives. Voters, the ball is in your court and please don’t just jump on any bandwagon that comes along and be taken for a ride again, for you deserve and are worth more than a l’assiette briyani or a pain fourré. And a free trip to the seaside to help make you wear blinkers.

* Published in print edition on 25 May 2012

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