We sent a journalist to the Enugu hospital where Chinwe is on admission to get the full story. This is his report.
BY ANTONY ETIM, CHAMPION NEWSPAPERS ENUGU
As children and mothers celebrated the 2012 Mothers Day on Sunday, May 12; Echeme and Ole Robert Kalu were wondering where on earth is their mother, Dr. (Mrs) Chinwe Uzoma Nnana Kalu. Meanwhile Uzoma was lying unconscious at the Memfys Neuro-Surgical Hospital, Kilometre2, Enugu Onitsha Express Way, Trans Ekulu Layout, Enugu, Enugu State. Uzoma and her two children have not seen themselves for more than a year. The bedridden medical doctor for more than two years now have been denied the opportunity to discharge her motherly duties to her children who are between the ages of six and eight years. It is not really the sickness that made this impossible rather it was the alienation from her kids that led to her present medical condition.
Sometimes in November 2009, Uzoma has return from work at the Livingword Hospital in Aba, where she worked as a medical doctor. As she entered the family sitting room, her co-wife and the first wife of her husband as if on cue took Echeme and Ole upstairs; and immediately the kids were out of sight and ear shot, her husband descended on the mother of her two sons and beat her into a pulp. He has special canes; belts and other instruments of torture that he uses on his hapless wife anytime he wants to abuse her. This wife not the first time that he was beating Uzoma, domestic violence was a regular occurrence in this family especially when they children are not around. He always makes sure that his sons are not around anytime he wants to attack their mother so that they would not beg him to spare her or join her in crying. When the beating became unbearable, as it seemed her husband was determined to beat her to death that fateful day, Uzoma escaped to the residence of her mother in law for refuge. She left her matrimonial home with only the clothes on her back which she wore to work that day. She has not return to her home since that day.
Uzoma stayed with her mother-in-law till August 2011 when she became ill and was taken to LivingWord Hospital Aba but when her condition did not improve; her father Tony Meribe, a Laboratory Technician in Umuahia requested that she should be moved to Umuahia so that her parents and sibling can watch over her. She was first admitted at Ngozi Hospital Umuahia, from where she was moved to Obioma Hospital still in Umuahia and another unnamed hospital in Umuahia and later the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, where her youger sister work as a nurse. Uzoma went into coma on Sunday November 27, 2011 and was rushed to a hospital. She was later discharged on December 22, 2011 to join her parents and siblings for the Christmas celebration.
All the period that Uzoma was sick and was being transferred from one hospital to another, her husband did not visit her or pick her hospital bills; it was her parents and siblings that were settling the bills. When Uzoma’s family sent message to her husband that his wife was in coma, he retorted that the wife did not go to the hospital from his house, which indirectly means that they should channel their message to his mother, Chinyere, whom Uzoma has been staying with before she got ill according to Emeka Meribe Uzoma’s brother. Emeka recalled that when he telephoned his brother in law to inform him that his wife is paralysed and is in a hospital in Enugu, he, mockingly, replied that he ,too, is paralysed. Emeka recalled that about January 2012, the husband came with his elder brother and a pastor to their house in Umuahia and gave a cheque of two million naira to Uzoma’s parents that their daughter should take that and start life afresh and forget about the marriage because he is no longer interested in the union any more.
When her condition did not improve, Uzoma sought for medical facility, where her case can be given utmost attention. On Tuesday, March 13, 2012, she was admitted at the MEMFYS Neuro-Surgical Hospital, Kilometre2, Enugu Onitsha Express Way, Trans Ekulu Layout, Enugu, Enugu State. Emeka, who is looking after her in the hospital is a final year Political Science student of Abia State University, Uturu and would be taking his final examinations from May Monday May 28, 2012. Divided, between his sister health and his education, Emeka looked worried and emaciated. Interactions with him showed he is willing to sacrifice his education for his sister to live. During our interactions, he was taking excuse every five minute to dash into the ward and look at his sister. Uzoma currently is on life support at the hospital and between March 13 and May 13, 2012 her bills for drug and treatment are above N3.5 million and the management of the hospital is contemplating throwing her out as her family and siblings seem unable to foot these bills and her continued stay in the hospital.
Medical Director of MEMFYS Neuro-Surgical Hospital, Professor Sam Ohaegbulam said it is not true that the hospital has concluded plans to eject Uzoma from the facility. Ohaegbulam stated that the management of the hospital feel short changed that the family has not been able to settle Uzoma’s bill and the patient is still occupying a bed and is receiving medical attention. The Professor explained that it is not fair that the hospital would reject patients who are willing and ready to pay bills because there is no bed space while a patient who cannot pay is occupying a bed and cited an example of one of the telecommunication companies in the country who staff was rejected because there was no space. Though the hospital may not reject Uzoma because of negative publicity and potraying the hospital management as insensitive, Ohaegulam noted that the cost of drugs and running the facility is capital intensive; and added that he has advised the family to transfer Uzoma to a government owned hospital where the bill would be lesser. He said that Uzoma’s husband has not reach the hospital management and pointed out that it was not the husband that brought Uzoma rather it was her family and they were briefed on the cost implication; therefore the hospital has no business reaching Uzoma’s husband for the settlement of her bills. Ohaegbulam refused to disclosed the nature of Uzoma’s ailment and the diagnosis as well the exact figure of her indebtedness to the hospital and insisted that this information can only be given to members of her family who brought her or with their permission.