Abandoned by loved ones at the hospital

Abandoned by loved ones at the hospital

Patients who need long-term care are undergoing treatment at three hospitals of Dubai Health Authority.

By Asma Ali Zain/deputy Chief Reporter

Published: Fri 20 Feb 2015, 1:29 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:41 PM

Providing relief to the abandoned ... the Emergency and Trauma centre, Rashid hospital, Dubai. — KT photos by Juidin Bernarrd

Providing relief to the abandoned ... the Emergency and Trauma centre, Rashid hospital, Dubai. — KT photos by Juidin Bernarrd

Beeping sounds from monitors and the rhythmic rise and fall of the ventilator pumping oxygen into the seemingly lifeless body are the only sounds that break the silence in this intensive care unit in Rashid Hospital.

Men and women in white coats and nurses in uniforms trot in and out at appointed times to fix machines or to turn the feeding tube on or off. They sometimes stop to chat briefly with the patient, but move on when they get no response, as has been the case for years.

Providing relief to the abandoned ... the Emergency and Trauma centre, Rashid hospital, Dubai. — KT photos by Juidin BernarrdSuch patients, they say, are blissfully unaware that they have been abandoned by their loved ones. If they knew that they had been left alone when they needed family support the most, they would have died of heartbreak, opine the caregivers.

According to an estimate, close to 230 patients who need long term care have been identified and are undergoing treatment at three different Dubai Health Authority (DHA) hospitals currently.

A 145 UAE nationals and expatriates were singled out as long-term treatment patients at Rashid Hospital and Trauma Centre’s in 2014 only.

Of these, 21 still remain at the hospital while others have been shifted and are being cared for in their countries or have recovered enough to leave the hospital.

Caregivers call them ‘cases’

Many times, ‘the cases’ are christened by their caregivers because of their inability to communicate.

 ‘Am happy when they are happy’

Nawal Mohammed has been associated with DHA since 2007. Of Palestinian origin, Nawal has a medical background and entered the medical sector to help people.

Nawal Mohammed Abu Mustafa

“Am happy when they are happy … I have patients from all over the world including Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and it makes me happy when they thank me and bless me.”

Touching case

“I came across this man in his 30s from Afghanistan who came to us with a stroke and was paralysed,” she explains.

“He stayed in the hospital for nearly seven years and we sent him back to his home country recently,” said Nawal.

He is now wheel-chair 
bound. Recently his family flew all the way from Afghanistan to thank me and our team. I was very touched, she adds.

Wilamore is still waiting

Filipino national Wilamore was brought to the hospital on November 6, 2008 after he suffered a stroke that caused bleeding in the brain that left him in a partial state of consciousness.

Wilamore, now 61, is completely bed-ridden and has to be fed through a tube.

For the past seven years, no one from his family has ever come to visit him ever, says Nawal. “In fact, we have arranged to send him back home and have been in touch with a local hospital … all arrangements have been made but his family just refuses to receive him,” she says.

“In such a situation, we have to make sure he is taken care of before we send him,” she explains, adding that such cases often take time to be resolved.

While his Dubai-based company is cooperative and has been concerned about Wilamore’s care, his family based in the Philippines do not want 
him back.

“We do not know why the family has been rejecting him for the last seven years but in most cases, the reasons are financial,” Nawal adds.

“We have traced his daughter and are awaiting to receive a letter of acceptance from her before we can send him to the Philippines.”

Nawal explains that though the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) will continue to care for him on humanitarian grounds, Wilamore is in need of his family. “He is not in a deep state of coma … he listens and if he is with his family, it will affect him psychologically and help him recover,” she says.

Naseema adds, “We cannot just dump him. When we send such cases, we need to take care that the hospital is good and he will receive good care until he has recovered 80 per cent of his health,” she says.

“He should listen to his language and feel, this will help him recover.”

The Philippines Consulate in Dubai is facilitating his transfer.

Depending on their conditions, they are shifted between the ICU and general medical ward where they do not require ventilators but still need round-the-clock care.

Stroke, polytrauma (due to traffic accidents), heat injuries, falls and industrial accidents make up majority of the long-term cases admitted to the Rashid Hospital, which is the biggest trauma centre in the region.

“Patients who have been with us for over three months and above are considered long-term cases,” explains Nawal Mohammed Abu Mustafa who heads the recently formed committee for long-term patients.

At times, patients are unresponsive when they are brought to the hospital. The committee asks forensic experts from the police to help identify the patient by lifting his finger prints.

“We also meet regularly to pick out patients considered for long term, study cases, extend support and find solutions,” she adds.

While Rashid Hospital houses only adult male and female long-term patients, children with similar needs are taken to other DHA hospitals.

“Many cases that are on the path to recovery are shifted to Abu Dhabi and Al Ain for rehabilitation,” says Naseem AbdulRehman, Acting Head of Case Management Section at Rashid Hospital. “It’s easier to send children home with families since they are UAE based ... but we have seen cases where children have also been abandoned too due to the long-term care that they require,” she adds. “People don’t want to take up that responsibility.”

In 2014, 145 cases of long-term patients were identified in Rashid Hospital of which 124 were discharged, and 21 still remain.

In 2013, 153 cases were identified at Rashid Hospital of which 70 (46 per cent) were discharged, and 80 still remained.

In 2012, 215 long-term patients were picked by the committee in Rashid Hospital of which 112 (52 per cent) cases were discharged, and 103 remained in hospital.

In other DHA hospitals such as Latifa Hospital, 24 cases, mostly paediatric, were identified in 2014 of which 15 were discharged, while nine remain. In Dubai Hospital, 16 cases were admitted and none of them have been discharged.

Nawal Mohammed Abu Mustafa“We have a dedicated team of doctors and specialist nurses who take care of such patients, many of whom require intensive care that includes feeding, changing, monitoring and lots more,” says Nawal who is also assistant administrative officer, Medical Affairs Department at Rashid Hospital.

Financial constraints at most times are the reason why families abandon their loved ones. “But the thought of having to provide home care to a patient who has no fixed time to recover is also one reason why such patients are left in hospitals,” says Nawal.

Though the DHA apparently bears the cost of treatment for long-term patients, officials do not divulge details. “It is all done on humanitarian grounds,” explains Naseem.

The DHA encourages volunteers to take out the time to spend with these patients. “It will affect them psychologically and help them recover quickly,” says Nawal.




More news from Health