Doctors, nurses and babies suffocate from excessive heat at Tamale Teaching Hospital

Doctors, nurses and babies suffocate from excessive heat at Tamale Teaching Hospital
Source: Ghana | Nhyira FM | Ohemeng Tawiah
Date: 13-02-2014 Time: 04:02:12:pm

Babies on admission at the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Tamale Teaching Hospital are at risk of suffocation and other infections, due to excessive heat at the facility.

Health personnel, who feel the pinch of the unbearable situation in their attempt to run from the heat, sometimes leave innocent babies behind, exposing them to higher risk.

According to Nhyira FM's Ohemeng Tawiah, unconfirmed reports say three people including a pregnant woman working in that unit, are said to have collapsed since the beginning of this year alone from excessive heat. 

Ohemeng reports that the heat that welcomes any visitor to the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit at the Tamale Teaching Hospital, the only referral center for the three northern regions, is unbearable.

Clothes of doctors and nurses attending to the babies, some of whom are underweight, have had their clothes soaked in sweat, with streams running down their faces and other parts of the body.

The NICU has only one faulty air conditioner, while the packed incubators continue to emit heat under a minimum room temperature of about 40 degrees Celsius. One air conditioner, functioning below capacity is woefully inadequate for that congested ward, which admits between 100 and 300 babies weekly.

“You, the staff here, have less oxygen in the room because there’s too much heat. So you are at risk not to talk of the children as well. And these babies with too much heat, for them, are not good. And you the staff, if you are not comfortable, how can you render quality service?," a worried Pediatrician queried.

Principal Nursing Officer, Gladys Punpuo says doctors and nurses working at the facility have been suffocating.

“We sweat a lot. All our clothes you see are wet. Yes we suffocate. So that tells you that we are suffering,” she said.

Babies at the unit are also not left out as they receive their share of the predicament, as they register abnormal body temperatures with constant cries heard over the ward.

“Every baby in the unit from 12 o’clock going willl get high temperature,” Madam Punpuo observed.

Nurses sometimes abandon their monitoring duties in order to avoid the heat; take a breath outside the heated-ward, especially after three of their colleagues allegedly collapsed recently from suffocation.

Babies, under the circumstance, are left to their fate. The effect of this precarious situation is summarized into complaints by care-givers at the unit, amidst the cry of babies.

“We are supposed to be there more often checking on the babies but I work there within the next 5-10 minutes I want to run out to come and take at least fresh air and go back and within that few period, something can happen to the baby,” a nurse complained.

Care-givers are worried about the conditions at the facility they described as hell because it puts the lives of both babies and personnel at risk. Though, it was due to be completed in 6-months, work has delayed. Authorities at the cash-strapped Tamale Teaching Hospital say until that gift is handed over to them, there is little they can do.

Chief Executive, Dr. Prosper Akanbong blames power fluctuations for the break-down of the only air condition at the NICU facility. He appeals for support from corporate and benevolent organizations to come to the aid of the cash-strapped hospital.

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