Tema General Hospital and Maternal Health

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Mothers come to Tema expecting to have a healthy pregnancy from start to end. This mindset quickly changes once they arrive. Pre-delivery, mothers must wait in line in crowded hallways, unprotected from the weather to see one of the four busy doctors. From there, they are crammed into small rooms to check their progress. Delivery needs to be quick because there is a line of other mothers waiting to deliver. If a complication occurs, they are forced into a room shared with several other mothers experiencing complications. Recovery is stressful, often having to share one bed with three other mothers and their newborns, which makes six people per bed. Care is limited to the resources the hospital can provide. Mothers in the area have limited choices when it comes to hospitals so they must accept their fate at Tema hospital, since there are no close alternatives.

At Tema hospital, the maternity staff is constantly at an uphill battle to provide mothers, pre and post delivery, the quality care they deserve. While touring the facility, it is clear that the battle stems from infrastructure constraints. The facility is unable to efficiently serve all the patients in a desired way. Mothers are crammed together and forced to share services. Tema’s maternity section was built 50 years ago and has not received renovations since. Sylvia, the head maternity surgeon, explained that an expansion to build a three story maternity block was put in place six years ago. Unfortunately, today it is uncompleted consisting of a wall-less mound of blocks. A completion date is still to be determined pending on planning and funding. The hospital is in desperate need of the expansion to keep up with the growing population in the neighboring towns. Doctors are forced to share a table in a small room to examine expectant and post-delivery mothers. Privacy and comfort are put on the back burner to be able to see and treat all the patients that come in. Pregnancy can be an uncomfortable time for mothers and their newborns, and when they seek care they shouldn’t be forced to increase their discomfort.

Currently, they average around 8000 deliveries per year. “Ask any other hospital, they do not come close to that number,” mentioned Sylvia. Along with infrastructure problems, the hospital also faces issues with being understaffed. The maternity ward staff consists of four main doctors, and five medical officers. Currently, one of the main doctors is out on leave, without a replacement. Although they work countless hours, they are following a thin line to provide equal care to every expectant mother. The doctors must work around the infrastructure problems and shortage of staff to attempt to provide every patient with quality care placing an added stress on them. How can doctors provide quality care, when they are overworked and work in unsatisfactory conditions? The staff at Tema hospital is forced to work around these fixable problems.

“At the end of the day we do produce a good,” Sylvia smiles. Through all the obstacles and problems the maternity ward face, they still manage to serve all their patients with the resources they do have. The problem is that the staff and patients at Tema hospital have to “manage.” Maternal mortality rates still linger in the 25-30% range. The majority of these complications could be avoidable if the funds and planning for the maternity ward were made a priority by the government. The staff and patients at Tema hospital patiently wait for the problems to be fixed, but with the rising population and shortage of staff and space they are running out of time.



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