El MAHALLA EL KOBRA: The Ghazl El Mahalla Hospital administration has denied accusations that anesthesia related to surgery at the hospital caused patients to have serious health repercussions.
Several patients claim that an anesthesia doctor at Ghazl Al Mahalla Textile Company’s affiliated hospital is behind the cases that have had tragic endings over the past two weeks. This subject tops a long list of complaints about the poor medical care and mal practices that plague the hospital.
Mohamed Khater, who was admitted for a surgery, ended up having to use crutches to support both his legs. “Some say it is God’s will and others say it is bad anesthesia, Khater said.
Saeed Ateya, one of the active participants in the workers’ movements calling for better wages, told Daily News Egypt that another worker had a stillborn baby under the supervision of an anesthetics doctor. The doctor is unlikely to have been the only common factor in the recent surgeries which have resulted in negative consequences for the patients involved.
By the time Daily News Egypt tried to reach these other patients, they had already left the hospital. It is worth noting, however that the Head of the Health Department, at the company Ahmed Aslan, said that he knew journalists would be visiting the hospital that day.
After several “contradictory diagnoses by hospital doctors and other independent ones, Aslan ordered Khater to be transferred within two days, to another hospital for more specialized treatment. Khater is now unable to move.
“My case is not an individual one, Khater said.
Aslan denied any problems with anesthesia at the hospital, questioning the patients’ ability to judge: “Khater had a hernia operation, and anyone who had an operation in the pelvis is susceptible to needing to use a crutch like any pregnant woman is susceptible to needing a crutch, he said.
Patients, though, were very unsatisfied with the standard of the service provided by the hospital.
Abdullah Shara’, who has been suffering from back pain for four years, more so since a work injury, discovered recently that he has a tumor in his vertebral column. “I had been at the hospital for 20 days taking painkillers until they sent me to a hospital in Cairo specialized in treating tumors. When I come back, they [doctors in Ghazl Al Mahalla Hospital] will see the reports and prescribe medication.
His brother and another worker at the hospital confirmed his story. “He was able to walk before coming to the hospital; now he is disabled, Tantawy Shara’ told Daily News Egypt.
He blamed the lack of equipment and a lack of compassion and care for patients.
“I went to the same doctor at his own private clinic, and paid the fees. He said there was nothing wrong with me, Abdullah said. A week later, the doctor also confirmed he had nothing, but he still felt sick.
“I want to walk again, Shara’ said.
Samir Yehya, director of three departments within the factory, said that he spent 45 days at the hospital, where seven surgeons and two orthopedists gave different diagnoses. Later on, he couldn’t move his toes.
When he went to a private clinic the doctor discovered a blood clot in his leg. With diabetic complications, he now can’t walk. He needs LE 40,000 for treatment, but the hospital has not decided to transfer him to a specialist hospital yet.
“My condition is not serious enough to be transferred to another hospital, Yehya complained.
“Unless you go to the clinic, [the private clinics of the hospital’s doctors], no one will care for you.. I challenge anyone to find a worker who had the opportunity to receive treatment in hospital or a center outside Mahalla without going to the doctors’ clinics once, twice or three times to exercise his right, Yehya said.
“He was feverish when he went to the hospital. He is taking medication, but they are not working, and he can no longer work. He hasn’t been able to speak properly for nine days, the daughter of one of the patients told Daily News Egypt just before hospital security confiscated our voice recorder for a short period of time.
Aslan, who returned the recorder, pointed out that there are 35 doctors covering 27,000 workers and their families, totaling around half a million.
“After three years, there will be no doctors in the hospital; they are all over 50 and will retire soon, around four of whom will retire next year, said Aslan.
“We asked the Ministry of Health this January to send us doctors under the residency system, called ‘taklif,’ but there is no response so far. We need doctors.
Aslan said that most complaints are in the form of patients who want the hospital to give them the prescribed medication.
When talking about mal treatment on the part of doctors to patients, “it is a matter of morality, Aslan said. He also pointed out that these doctors are relatives and neighbors of these workers, and therefore, personal problems may interfere in the way they treat patients.
He also said that there are “deterrent procedures for doctors who prove to be negligent, the harshest of which is preventing his/her promotion.
The hospital receives LE 10-11 million annually from the company. “We get what we ask for [in terms of money].
Doctors receive around LE 600 as a basic salary and with bonuses they get just less than LE 2,000 a month. Any visiting doctor gets LE 1000 for an operation.
“We do not want to overspend , Aslan told Daily News Egypt.
In response to a question regarding tardiness in treating the patients, Aslan, giving us the example of his burned hand said, “as long as I am able to work and use them, there is no need to do anything with them.
Adly Nassif Saa’d, who has been injured since May at work, said the injury was small. But after the cast, some small parts of the material from which the cast is made contaminated the wound and caused it to expand. He needs a special instrument that costs LE 3,000. Al Demerdash Hospital refused the company’s check to treat Saa’d. He sent official complaints to the Minister of Industry, Mahmoud Al Gibaly, the general manager of the company, the Ministry of Manpower and the Minister of Health sometimes more than once.
“I spent more than LE 3,000 of my own money .and the head of the hospital [Aslan] refused to meet me, Saa’d said.
Some workers have complimented the performance of some doctors like the only ophthalmologist and Aslan himself.
Badreya, after an accident, borrowed money to have an operation at a private hospital when two months of treatment at the hospital were wasted in vain.
“After the accident, they told me to walk on the other leg that is working, but it did not work either. They told me it is torn ligaments, sent me to Cairo and made me a plate to put in my leg. They then told me to walk on my injured leg, the plate got loose, and then I asked for permission to be treated privately, and it turned out to be a broken joint, and I spent LE 8,000 from my own pocket and borrowed from people. I have been serving the company for 40 years and will retire in September, Haga Badreya said.
“After 11 pm, there are no doctors at the hospital, Hassan Hussein, a worker at the company, told Daily News Egypt.
Tantawi Shara’, the brother of the deceased worker, Zaki Shara’, said that he spent some time in the hospital until he started to vomit blood. To absolve themselves of responsibility, they transferred him to Mansoura, but he died on the way to the hospital.
“This is a slaughterhouse, it s not for humans, Tantawy said.