As due pregnant woman is turned away from clinic
’Majirata Latela and Sechaba Mokhethi
QACHA’S NEK – When 17-year old Elelloang Ramosoeu realised she was pregnant last year (2016) she panicked, wondering how her mother was going to react.
Despite having committed a “sin” by falling pregnant underage (at 16-years), Elelloang was quite conversant with how her family borne the poverty brunt with her mother, ’Maelelloang, being a single parent and breastfeeding her sixth child at the time.
Elelloang was the first-born of the six children, which traditionally meant ’Maelelloang had high expectations from her to assist the family out of the struggle, “but there I was, piling more burden into my family by bringing the seventh child,” she tells a team of MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism (MNNCIJ) and Informative in a recent interview.
But having quickly passed this stage with her family finally accepting the situation, Elelloang was able to pick up the pieces. All she now wished for was to deliver her baby in a decent manner, through professional assistance of medical practitioners.
But Elelloang’s wish was blown away on August 22, 2017, when the nearby clinic, Sacred Heart Christ The King, refused provide maternal service to her on grounds the health centre’s regulations prohibited delivery service for first-time pregnant mothers.
Elelloang was to later same day deliver her baby through back-door labour, with assistance of a villager after failing to reach Machabeng Hospital, where she was referred to by nurses at the Sacred Heart Christ the King, on time. Machabeng is about one and half hours’ drive from Sacred Heart Christ the King.
Elelloang narrates the ordeal to our team: “After realising I was pregnant at three months, I started going to the nearby Sacred Heart Christ the King. I was told at the clinic that I will deliver my baby on August 22, 2017.”
On the said date, she said, she was rushed to the clinic by her mother after she developed signs she was ready for delivery.
“But very sadly I was reminded that the nurses could not put me on labour because their regulations barred delivery of first pregnancies at the clinic,” she said, almost breaking into tears.
She said she was ordered to go to Machabeng. Her mother was to fend ways and pay bills of transporting her to the hospital.
“I started to feel more pains after leaving the clinic and my water broke when we reached the bus-stop. I could feel the baby coming,” she said with tears running down her face, recalling how her mother sought assistance from village women who took her to a nearby house where the baby was delivered.
Shy and with fear of being harassed for home delivery, Elelloang’s baby missed seven-day check-up and it took her six weeks to take her baby to clinic where the baby was checked and given Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine for the first time.
To her surprise, the nurses did not even bother to question about the day of her delivery and what transpired after she left.
Although the clinic’s manager Sister Maria Louise Mahase says she is not aware of the incident, she attests to bad treatment given to patients at Sacred Heart Christ the King Health Centre.
“I do not know about the issue of a pregnant lady who was sent away by nurses as I was never informed about it, however because I have heard of some ill treatments that the nurses have done to patients I cannot at any point defend them,” she said.
However, Elelloang’s ordeal was also corroborated by Councillor ‘Mapheello Mohale who is also the chairperson of the clinics’ committee said their committee never discussed the issue as Sister Mahase kept postponing the sittings.
On the other hand, Executive Director of Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL) Lebohang Mothae, says it is binding on clinics to have timely meetings with the committee members so as to discuss matters such as the one above.
As CHAL, she said they are going to necessary measures and get to the bottom of the issue of Elelloang and “those who will be found guilty will face disciplinary actions as per the guidelines of the nurse’s conduct”.
Mahase said she once met a group of people telling her they were treated badly by the nurses. “I tried to deal with the nurses but in vain. There is a time when I thought everything was back in place after taking the matter of the nurses conduct to the committee,” said Mahase, seemingly giving up.
Referring to Elelloang’s case, she said if a pregnant woman arrives at the clinic ready to deliver, their rule is to help them deliver even if they fall within categories that are only done by hospitals like those on a fourth child.
“In an incidence where we see they can get to Machabeng Hospital, an ambulance has to take her together with the nurse,” emphasising the patient has to leave together with a nurse who will be monitoring her every time which our team has established that it was not the case with Elelloang.
Our team also noticed that there is an amount of money M95 or more depending on distance to the hospital that has to be paid for patients to be transported from the clinics to hospitals and the question is, what happens to those who cannot afford? Does this mean they will have to resort to labouring at home just as Elelloang as she did not have money for transport to Machabeng Hospital?