+ (Archimandrite) Themistocles Adanopoulos
Eve of the Ascension (20 / 5 / 15)
About four years ago we baptized Anita Mustafa into the Orthodox Church, here in Sierra Leone.
We gave her a new name – Anna.
As a natural leader, Anna quickly became a leader in our Cathedral Choir and a shining light among the Orthodox Youth Fellowship of Sierra Leone. She was a Form Five student at one of the better high schools here in Freetown. She came from a poor family but with our help and her educational aspirations her future looked bright. Indeed a week ago or so plans were made for us to pay for her school fees as well as those of other members of the choir.
Just after last Sunday turned to Monday at Midnight we experienced a terrible storm here in Freetown. It was pouring rain, it was thundering and it was pitch dark due to power cuts, when Anna’s father ran hastily into our Mission Compound in Freetown. He was in a desperate and frantic state of mind. He was accompanied by Constantine another young member of our Cathedral Choir. He breathlessly announced to our compound Manager, Kyriakos Koroma, that his daughter Anna was having seizures and they had no means of securing medical assistance. This is a constant episode here among the poor. Many people die needlessly simply because of lack of money.
The father was immediately given some money and his daughter was taken to a hospital. However the drama does not end there. It only begins.
At the hospital, as we later discovered, this talented teenager was experiencing a series of heart attacks. She was also apparently quite anemic. While the nurses on duty were quite happy to take the money no treatment was given. They simply said that they can do nothing substantial until the doctor would report for duty at eight in the morning. Indeed we managed to send more money. But while waiting for hours for the doctor to arrive, Anna died!
Several issues, therefore, become a serious cause of concern:
(i) If the nurses knew that no doctor would be available until the morning why did they not advise the family to take Anna to another medical centre? Were they afraid of losing the fee?
(ii) Since the nurses knew that the doctor would not arrive until 8.00AM why did they not at least try to save her?
(iii) According to medical regulations here all hospitals should have a 24 hour doctor service. That this hospital did not renders them guilty at best with gross negligence at worst with culpable homicide.
These episodes are not unique to Anna. They are a symptom of the poor medical system that we have here and the fear among health workers as a consequence of the Ebola outbreak which often leads to a kind of treatment paralysis.
I will refer this matter to the Medical Association of Sierra Leone. At least let Ana’s death not be in vain if something can be done to ensure a 24 hour medical system here.
As with all deaths in this time, Anna will be buried by the Ebola burial team in a few days. We will conduct prayers at the graveside. Her funeral service will be held on Saturday without the body.
May her Memory be Eternal. May Christ grant her a beautiful place in paradise. Now, my resolve is to create a 24/7 medical Clinic with doctors at all times.