The Unfortunate 12 of Kogi State University Teaching Hospital

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“Tearing through the human flesh and the gory sight that comes with it, the screams in excruciating pain is believed to be all part of the training but little are people aware of the imprint these leave on our fragile heart, how this distorts our day and sometimes wreck our emotions for days,” said Dr. A; seeing a patient lying helpless from pain analgesics cannot just suppress, going home, thinking about the best course of management waking up early the next morning to the ward to hear of the demise of the patient, the moaning sound of suppressed cry in the air, the look in the patient relative’s eyes, the guilt that you couldn’t save this one.
You sit back with deep thoughts then you remember the sacrifices of many that pass unacknowledged. How you go to work every day hoping to save a life that either comes in or is helplessly dragged in with little hope of surviving. All these and the emotional breakdown we go through with no single payment for our service. In all, our joy comes with the recovery of our patients and our passion to keep a life alive and many smiles on those they are connected to; will this joy pay the bills?
It all started in 2015 when the Kogi State Ministry of Health made a vacancy placement for Kogi State University Teaching Hospital (KSUTH), Anyigba. Able, certified candidates applied hoping to be shortlisted and invited for the recruitment exercise.
The two days interview scheduled for Clinical and Administrative staff respectively was carried out on the 6th & 7th of August 2015 in the conference hall of the state ministry of health; with candidates leaving the premises with hope of being called, recruited to serve and enjoy a better life while at it.
Within the first week of October after a long wait the successful candidates were to report and get their appointment offer. On the 13th October 2015 the new staff of the Kogi State University Teaching Hospital reported and resumed duty with smile and zeal.
Fast forward to the screening exercise embarked on by the Kogi state government under the governorship of his Excellency Alh. Yahaya Adoza Bello; the newly employed staff of the hospital that were employed to help in the accreditation process of the College of Medicine of the University went through the process and like a patient being screened for HIV/AIDS waited patiently for the result which came out with them not being cleared and tagged “Political Appointment”.
The screening result as may be seen in a case of a patient who walked into the Out Patient Department (OPD) of a hospital with thoughts of being healthy but declared HIV positive caused a lot of confusion amongst the staff of the institution that were affected. Calm  returned as assurance were given by the management to all staff with directives for them to return to their duty post; a directive that was adhered to without complain of the non-payment due to the screening.
Hope they say keeps a man going; but hope is a killer if it lingers longer.
After several screening the certified 2015 staff was still uncleared but working with hope of a great payday ahead. Different organizations and professional bodies came in trying to intervene and salvage the situation that is literally draining the life out of the establishment. A need assessment panel was set up and another screening conducted and 2015 remained null & void; but words of encouragement and assurance from the administration kept them going. Duties were being discharged especially by the clinical staff employed in 2015 as it was said that the need assessment covered them. Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) and Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) kept the fight going, thus the payday were fast approaching. Based on the need assessment, it was announced that the governor his Excellency Alh. Yahaya Adoza Bello had given clemency to the 2015 clinical staff of Kogi State University Teaching Hospital and the joy was evident on their lips as the mockery of people seeing them work earnestly while uncleared and unpaid has ended.
On the 6th of June 2017, late evening the 10 Medical Officers employed in 2015 were paid a range of 6-18 months of their salary backlog. Fresh atmospheres of confusion set in as the rest of the clinical staff were left perturbed and pained. Did the need assessment cover only the doctors? Was the clemency not valid? Or was it the fight of the NMA that yielded result? So many questions left unanswered.
The words of the then Chief Medical Director Prof. S.T. Edino gave the reassurance needed; stating that all staff will be captured and work should continue. JOHESU kept fighting but it was becoming obvious they had no strength left in them. National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) swung into action fighting for their own. Several meetings and assurance from the government that all clinical staff would be paid their due backlog; call for screening and as usual the clinical staff presented themselves before the committee.
During the early days of the month of November 2017, the nurses were singled out and paid their backlog leaving 2 Pharmacists, 2 Medical Laboratory Scientist, 3 Medical Laboratory Technologist, 2 Medical Laboratory Assistants, 2 Dietitians and 1 Radiographer; a group of clinical staff that were appointed on the same day into the state civil service like the doctors and nurses; the same group that were granted clemency. Now the question; were the unfortunate 12 not paid because they had no strong union to fight for them? Or based on the need assessment they were abandoned after several months of working with hope of a better day?
On a deep thought; who needs a Pharmacists when we all know Paracetamol is for headaches; who needs a Medical Laboratory Scientist with their needle pricking habits; who needs a Dietitian/Nutritionist when we know a good vegetable soup and a sweet tortoise meet pepper soup replenishes the blood; who needs a Medical Laboratory Technologist when any technology/computer savvy individual can do their job talk less of an assistant; who needs a Radiographer, no one knows what that one does in this modern day of digital news platforms.
What was the fate of the unfortunate 12; were they no longer needed, was their work and dedication to the state, service to the patients in the community and the revenue generated during going to be unnoticed and unpaid for? Where exactly is the problem coming from? Was his Excellency that granted the clemency and promised they will all be paid aware of this? Or was there a group in the government benefitting from this and making the administration unpopular from within?
In June 2018, new appointment letters were handed to the unfortunate 12 among others as a form of re-engaging their services; are they needed now? What gave rise to the sudden need for them? What has happened to their past salaries that were included in the past budget? Is this really a new path that won’t end up in mockery again?
Today after over 3 years of being employed, the unfortunate 12 of Kogi State University Teaching Hospital among others are hoping and praying they will be shortlisted for the table payment embarked on by the state government; maybe their backlog will be paid, maybe even a percentage of the backlog, maybe a  miracle will happen, maybe his Excellency Alh. Yahaya Adoza Bello in his mercy and love for the legitimately employed staff of Kogi state will pay them for their service rendered. So many MAYBEs all based on HOPE.
Will the HOPE of the unfortunate 12 of Kogi State University Teaching Hospital, Anyigba who do not have a strong union to fight for them be cut short or will it keep them going? Who is going to be the voice for these voiceless voices?
– Ekoja Victoria

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