Thursday, September 20, 2007
For the past three weeks I was quite busy co-training a group of German and Arab (Tunisian, Egyptian, Moroccan, Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian and Palestinian) students and fresh journalists..
The training transcended the usual theoretical training, to offer practical, hands-on guidance and instruction during which each student had to actually write a feature. Students were asked to work in groups of two (1 German and 1 Arab) and produce a story each but on the same issue. the issues were quite interesting: they tackled sex education, Iraqi refugees, "Islamism" and even heavy metal music in Jordan. Blogs were also "investigated" and a special story was written on violence against women in Jordan . All these features will be published in a special magazine that is actually being designed...
The training was organized by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Veteran journalist Jan Kuhlmann co-trained the students, who exhibited exceptional courage, enthusiasm and valor..
I am so happy to have been offered to give this training...training is the second thing I love in my life..Journalism comes first!
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
PREAMBLE: This family tragedy you are about to read contains 100% accurate facts related to the family emergency I talked earlier about. This tragedy DID NOT take place in East Timor and NO, it DID NOT take place in
Day 1: On the afternoon of Sunday the 19th of August, 2007
My father left the house on some usual errands. He never came back that day and, surprisingly, his mobile was switched off. Although it’s unlike my dad to leave the house and not say where he’s going and turn off his mobile, my family thought he was sleeping over at one of his friend’s house and simply ran out of battery, so they didn’t really get worried and thought he’d call the next morning to inform the family where he was.
There’s still no sign of him and his mobile is still turned off. Again, although it’s unlike him, but we reassured ourselves that he’s probably at one of his friends’ spending a jolly good time.
There’s no sign of my dad whatsoever. We started calling all members of the family, all his friends and acquaintances, but no one knew where he was. We try to be positive and pray to God that he’ll show up the next day. Being in Dubai, I was unable to add any value, except give my family more reasons to worry by calling them every 10 minutes. We started getting worried.
Still, no sign of dad. We panic! My family informs the police. The police contacted all hospitals and ran a circulated search on his license plate number. The feeling of helplessness was killing me, but we kept lying to ourselves that he’s doing fine.
Five or six members of the family took turns in calling all Amman hospitals including Prince Hamza Hospital, which they called THREE TIMES. All hospitals assured us that no one with my father’s name was admitted recently.
Another day passes by with no progress. Dad’s mobile is still turned off. We went as far as to think that he got married to another woman and was spending his sweet honey moon in another country, because that’s what a desperate person would think to reassure himself that someone dear to him is doing fine.
Yet another day with empty hands. Our contacts at the border controls and at the airport assured us that my father did not leave the country. At this point, there was little room left for positive thinking. We started fearing the worst.
The fear of the worst intensified. Bad thoughts prevailed and we began to lose hope.
It’s been more than a week since dad left now. There’s no sign of him or his car and his mobile is still turned off! My cousin at the Air Force went beyond his duty and managed to convince his senior to fly a chopper and look for dad’s car in the forests and woods of Amman, but nothing happened. We lost all hope of finding him. I couldn’t eat, drink, sleep or work.
The police found dad’s car! It was found next to the Arab College [الكلية العربية], located in the Gardens Street, parked in a strange way, as if the driver left it in a hurry. It was hit from the left side and there were groceries in the back seat.
The doorman of the closest building to where the car was parked confirmed that an old man came out of the car and looked very sick and some college students took him to a hospital. He did not know which hospital he was transferred to. The Criminal Investigation guys arrived and took fingerprints and the doorman’s statement.
We contact all hospitals again, including Prince Hamza Hospital, as it is the closest public hospital to where dad’s car was found (people in Jordan tend to transfer sick strangers to public hospitals so they wouldn’t have to worry about payments). The operator at Prince Hamza Hospital guaranteed us that no one with my father’s name was admitted into the hospital.
Despite the operator’s assurance, my witty uncle went to that hospital at 10:30 pm of that day. He asked the receptionist if my father was admitted there and the receptionist, who’s also the operator, snapped at my uncle and his exact words were: (يا عمي دوشتونا بهالزملة! ما في ورانا غيركو؟ … يا أخي روحوا دوّروا عليه بمحل ثاني!). English translation: [We’ve had enough of you guys asking about this man. Do you think we have nothing better to do than answer your inquiries? Go look elsewhere!“
My uncle demanded to see the register to which the receptionist refused, but my uncle insisted. To get rid of my persistent uncle, the receptionist hands him the register, my uncle flips a page or two back and, believe it or not, THERE IT WAS: my father’s name, written in a very clear and visible handwriting in the patient’s manifest/register, admitted on Sunday the 19th of August, the same day he left the house.
Yes my friends, you are not imagining things. He was admitted to the hospital which my family called FOUR different times and every single time they said NO, there’s no such patient!
I arrived to
THE HORRIFIC FACTS
Dad was driving his car when he became very ill and hit his car where it was found. He got out of his car feeling very dizzy and fell down. Some unknown students took him
Because the hospital is really bad and I can’t begin to explain how horrible it is, my dad ended up with a) a brain seizure, b) severe pneumonia, c) kidney malfunction and d) blood infection. All which he picked up and was caused by his stay at the Prince Hamza Butchery (that’s what we’re calling it now). The reason his mobile was turned off is because it was stolen, either by the people who transferred him, or most probably at the hospital.
Now let me tell you a little of how my dad was treated in that hospital:
- For 9 days, 9 miserable days: he was left without any clothes on, not even a patient’s robe, which most probably caused the acute pneumonia.
- For 9 days, 9 miserable days: he was left with no food or water, which caused bacteria to form inside his mouth.
- For 9 days, 9 miserable days: none of the hospital’s staff bothered him/herself to inform his family, or the police for that matter, although he had his wallet next to him, and of course all his money was stolen, but he had all his ID’s and friend’s business cards in it. It even had MY business card! Can you imagine how he felt waking up to find no one beside him for 9 days?
- For 9 days, 9 miserable days: he was not given his medication, instead, the nurse would leave his pills on the table next to him, but he couldn’t move God damnit! If it wasn’t for the kind-hearted patient next to him who took it upon himself to give dad his medication and feed him whenever he can, God knows what could’ve happened.
- For 9 days, 9 miserable days: he was left to rot, literally. They did not bathe or clean him even once, and you can never imagine the hygienic condition he was in.
- For 9 days, 9 miserable days: they did not bother to change his position, which caused really severe bed sores on his buttocks.
We transferred him to a decent hospital the very next day, because we had to wait for the doctor’s release and an ambulance, which they refused to let us use or hire.
What’s even stranger than all that is when we went to the hospital the next day to transfer him, the doctors said he’s doing fine now and all he had was high blood pressure and minor convulsions, so you can take him home now. But after transferring him, the doctors told us he wouldn’t have made it if we took him home, simply because you can’t treat a brain seizure, acute pneumonia, a blood disease and a kidney malfunction at home!
The carelessness and the indifference we saw in the hospital are seriously fatal and without a doubt, a couple of more days at that hospital could’ve been the end of my father.
The Prince Hamza Hospital was only inaugurated last year by King Abdullah II and has cost the Jordanian government (tax payers, i.e, the Jordanian people) more than 67.6 million Jordan Dinars (close to 100 million $!).
The hospital is truly enormous and it looks wonderful from the outside but once you go inside, you’d feel like you’ve entered a ghost town to say the least. Large halls are empty and dirty and I assure you that you can’t find more than a couple of nurses in any of the large wards. The entire hospital is a smoking zone and the sight of patients smoking in their rooms is more than normal. All procedures there are done on papers. Not one computer can be found in the entire hospital and the one and only computer lies in front of the accountant.
We are thinking of suing them, although people are advising us not to, because it’ll be to no avail and would only be a waste of time, effort and money, simply because we’ll be suing the government (Prince Hamza Hospital) to the government (the courts), but nevertheless, we will carry on with that.
We also called the local Watan FM radio station (100.3 FM) and one of sharp-tongued uncles complained live about the hospital’s carelessness which nearly got an old man killed, in addition to the physical, psychological and mental state my dad was in when we found him, and not mentioning the torment me and family went through during the past two weeks. The radio station then called the hospital’s deputy general manager, Abdel Hafith Kharabsheh, who admitted the hospital is short-staffed and that the staff there are doing their utmost best, which absolutely contradicts to what the Jordanian Minister of Health, Sa’eed Darwazeh, said during the hospital’s inaugural press conference on the 25th of June 2006 (Kindly refer to paragraph 5 of the cached article. The original doesn’t exist for some reason) where he denied that The Prince Hamza Hospital is undermanned and confirmed that the hospital has 159 doctors and 465 nurses, in addition to other 99 medical workers.
But what Mr. Kharabsheh knows very well is that the problem does not lie in the fact that he’s short-staffed, but in the fact that the current staff are absolutely incompetent. All what they had to do is call the man’s family or the police.
I called a close friend of mine at the Jordan Times and told her the tragedy, but, unfortunately, she thinks such tragic stories are unlikely to be carried in the paper.
AND FINALLY …
Although my heart bleeds for what happened to my dear father and to see him this weak and vulnerable, but at least his health condition is stable at the moment and can now recognize us and mumble a few unintelligible words every now and then.
This post will probably be the only platform for me to rant in case the lawsuit fails but I do hope that my voice will be heard somewhere, not just because such incidents should not go unpunished, especially that it happened to my father, but because some action, even if it was too little, can save other people’s lives, it can help eradicate the carelessness and apathy the Jordanian health system suffers from and more importantly … restore some of the lost value of the human life.