Otobrise: A Case Of Medical Mismanagement In Ghana, Employer’s Negligence
WHEN Engineer Richard Otobrise was leaving Nigeria for Golden Tulip, Ghana to assume the position of Chief Engineer, he was very optimistic. As somebody who was exporting his skill to that land, he was ready to give his best and not disappoint those who recommended his movement from Golden Tulip, Nigeria to the Gold Coast of old. Today, he is back in Nigeria but with depressing tales.
He resumed in Ghana officially on December 1, 2010 and dutifully put in his best to ensure that he was not just a true ambassador of Nigeria, but also that electrical engineering and technical issues in the hotel enjoyed the best of expertise.
When he had to leave Ghana for Nigeria, he was presented a letter titled, Citation in honour of Mr. Richard Otobrise- Chief Engineer, which reads, “Mr. Richard Otobrise, you worked with our department and hotel from 1st October December 2010 – 12th March 2014 as the first Nigerian to hold this envious and prestigious position. As the Chief Engineer in the hotel, you have proven yourself a worthy chief in all respect.
“Your meticulous love for details makes you a good custodian of engineering ethics and moral values and helping us uphold the high level of excellence we stand for.
“Chief Chief as you are fondly called and your natural response, How are you would forever be remembered by all. You have been a father to all colleagues; staff and guest alike have found you with a sympathetic ear, a concerning attitude and an ever-ready hand stretched out to them.
“You showed great dynamism in your leadership.
Accept the appreciation of the maintenance team of the Golden Tulip, Kumasi, this 12th day of March, 2014.”
The letter, no doubt, showed that Otobrise faithfully and diligently served the organisation, but since he left Ghana because of a protracted illness, he has been left to carry his burden alone.
Narrating his experience, he said that on October 15, 2013, he reported at the hotel clinic, where he complained to the doctor on duty of urinating frequently, reason he was sent to a medical laboratory, Histolab Diagnostic Centre Limited, where a prostrate biopsy test was carried out.
According to him, the medical laboratory scientist on duty inserted an instrument into his anus eight times, after which he was told to come back a month later for the report. But when he got home that day, the case became complex, as he started urinating and excreting blood.
Hear him, “I was urinating and excreting blood, so I informed the doctor who sent me for the test about the development. He demanded I come to the hotel clinic, where I was given some drugs and to return the next day. But that night, I could not sleep. By morning, I was having fever and cold. I called the doctor again that things are not getting better.
“When he saw me, he took me to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, where I was admitted and immediately went into coma for two days. The doctor told me after regaining consciousness that I almost passed on. And I wondered what could be responsible for that, because the lab result was not even out then.”
Otobrise disclosed that on recovering from that, he started having waist pain, not able to neither sit nor walk. After notifying the doctor of the pains, he was given some drugs, which did not alleviate the crisis. As a result of this, he was sent for an MRI scan, which revealed after two tests, that his spinal cord was broken.
So, a senior specialist, neurosurgeon, Dr Anthony Lamina, was invited, who after perusing the reports of the two tests said Otobrise would go through a surgical operation to fix his spinal cord. Ironically, the neurosurgeon said he was going on vacation the next day and would resume after three weeks.
“I informed the hotel doctor that I cannot stay in the hospital for three weeks without treatment and I asked that I be taken home.”
The doctor in the hotel promised some medical support till the neurosurgeon returns from vacation. But in spite of the hotel doctor’s daily medical support, his health did not get better, reason he suggested to the General Manger that he should be taken outside Ghana for better treatment.
“But the GM said I should wait for the neurosurgeon who travelled. I was in that state when the Golden Tulip CEO came visiting, I sent him a text narrating my condition and he came to see me. The CEO then wondered why the GM did not send me abroad for treatment, which the GM agreed to arrange.
“But when the CEO left, I asked my wife to remind the GM when the arrangement for treatment abroad will be coming up. He consulted the in-house doctor who said that the neurosurgeon would soon be back and it was better to wait as moving me outside would take a longer process.
“A week after the CEO left Ghana, I sent him a mail that action has not followed the directive he gave. He replied that they are doing everything possible for me to recover.”
Otobrise said the dilly-dally process continued till the neurosurgeon resumed, who then claimed to be down with flu, and would only attend to me when he recovers.
“So, I had to stay for another week before the surgical operation, which was done on December 31, 2013. Consequently, I started using trolley to walk after a week, but the pains were still there. A month after the operation in Ghana, I told the doctor I want to return to Nigeria, as my relatives were worried and anxious. I was told to stay for a month more, which I did before retuning to Nigeria. During that period, I asked the doctor, if I could still work, he said I could do light activities.”
He said surprisingly the CEO came visiting again and disclosed that another hotel outlet is being opened in Delta State, Nigeria, where he could work as the GM on arrival in Nigeria.
According to him, a month after returning to Nigeria, he managed to walk with the aid of a stick. So, he alerted the CEO that he was in Nigeria, if he could see the new hotel, but got no response.
“I was not initially bothered because I felt my health was more important. But by the second month of my return to Nigeria, my state of health collapsed and returned to square one. I was almost bedridden.
“I called the doctor in Ghana to inform him of the new development. He said it was not what could be discussed on phone except I returned to Ghana.
“I then went to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). The doctor gave me two weeks appointment, as I cannot be admitted. The same thing at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), though I was given drugs to alleviate the pains, it was not effective. It was then I discussed with my family doctor, if there was anyway I could go out, and he arranged for me to go to India. So, I left Nigeria for India in July 2014.”
According to Otobrise, tests were conducted and it was discovered that the transplant was not properly done, and that the screws implanted in his body were loose; the reason for the pains and difficulty in sitting.
He said he had to go through another surgical operation carried out by the Indian doctor. According to him, it was the process that led to the removal of the screws in his body.
“I was told it was not even supposed to be there, as my bones are still strong; all that was needed are drugs, which would heal the bones.”
Otobrise also disclosed that earlier attempts to have an insight into his medical report by the Ghanaian hospital was not successful as the doctor told him to get it from the hotel General Manager, who also refused to make it available to him.
When our reporter contacted the Chairman of Golden Tulip, West Africa, Mr. Ndili Amaechi, he did not pick the several calls made to him.
The following day, February 5, Amaechi replied the message sent to his Whatsapp page demanding that the reporter send his email address so that the company’s lawyer could respond. Five days after, the reporter sent a reminder, yet no response came till date. However, it was gathered that Amaechi called Otobrise condemning him for giving out his contact to this reporter.
Also, a mail was sent to the Ghanaian neurosurgeon, Dr Anthony Lamina, to get an insight on what really happened. He did not reply. When the reporter got in touch with him through his mobile phone, he requested that another mail be sent to his mailbox, which was complied with, but the doctor still did not reply as at press time.