The New Generation Medical Centre has compensated two victims of its medical negligence, after an 18-month investigation by The Fourth Estate revealed the death of at least two children and the maiming of others.
The Fourth Estate’s sources say two of the victims, who asked to be known only as Kate and Bernice during the investigations, received GHC50,000 each from the hospital following their ordeal at the hands of a quack midwife, Francisca Quaye. The two had threatened legal action against the South Odorkor-based health facility.
But before the threat developed into a full-blown legal battle, the hospital opted for settlement.
Kate’s baby died at the New Generation Medical Centre but was told that the baby had been taken to the Neonatal Care Unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. Bernice had a crude episiotomy performed by none other than a quack midwife, Francisca Quaye, alias Matron Gaga. About a week after the medical procedure, her vagina emitted an unpleasant odour, which led her mother to discover that a pad had been left inside her.
An episiotomy is a cut (incision) through the area between the vaginal opening and the anus. This procedure is done to make the vaginal opening larger for childbirth.
Both Bernice and Kate said they are psychologically scarred by their experiences at the hospital.
Prior to the compensation payout to Kate and Bernice, the New Generation Medical Centre paid a fine of GHC80,000 for employing the services of the quack midwife, Francisca Quaye, who had been in the service of the health facility for almost 30 years. A second hospital which employed Ms Quaye after she was sacked from New Generation Medical Centre was fined GHC25,000.
The Health Facilities Regulatory Agency (HeFRA) said the number of deaths, cases of injury, and other incidents, the use of an unqualified staff to provide service in a licensed facility for nearly 30 years informed the decision to impose the heaviest fine ever in the agency’s history on the two facilities.
HeFRA’s Registrar, Dr Philip Bannor, said the fine imposed on the New Generation Medical Centre was the highest penalty ever slapped on a facility for flouting HeFRA’s regulations. He explained that management of the two facilities looked on while the quack midwife practised, without any checks, with preventable deaths recorded at the New Generation Medical Centre.
HeFRA’s position affirmed Dr Ralph Obeng Owusu Snr, the Chief Executive Officer of the New Generation Medical Centre’s confession to The Fourth Estate that he could have handled the situation better.
“It was probably a little bit of naivety on my part…But the thing with her was she was a little boisterous when it came to things of that nature,” Dr Obeng told The Fourth Estate. “…Partly, I’ll take the blame because she had been under my tutelage for quite a while.”
The Fourth Estate’s investigations revealed that at least two babies died within 11 months due to the negligence of Ms Quaye.
The New Generation Medical Centre, however, concealed the two deaths recorded at the facility, as it told the Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate that it did not record a single death, be it a mother or a child from 2016 to 2021.
The quack midwife, who is currently on the run, had practised for more than 30 years.
The President of the Midwives Association of Ghana, Mary Ofosu, condemned Ms Quaye’s unconventional and incompetent actions, including inducing pregnant women and asking them to go home, while she worked at the New Generation Medical Centre. She said the practice was inconsistent with midwifery practice.
“A midwife cannot do induction on her own,” she said. “There must be a medical officer or specialist around. You should also have a theatre around because induction can fail. So, when you induce and it fails, we need to take the client to the theatre. So, before you do induction, you need to get all those things around.”
The Fourth Estate’s investigations revealed that Ms Quaye had never been to any nursing or midwifery training school.
To be recognised as a midwife in Ghana, one has to attend an accredited nursing/midwifery training institution and pass a licensing exam conducted by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (N&MC), renewable annually. Any exemption to this rule may only be granted by the board of the N&MC.
Ms Quaye had neither a license nor an exemption. She was a janitor at the now-defunct Susan Clinic, where she met Dr Obeng, who did little to stop her from working in his labour ward.
Unannounced inspections by HeFRA
Until The Fourth Estate’s exposé, HeFRA was required to announce schedules for its visits to health facilities for inspections.
However, Agyeman Badu, HeFRA’s Director of Compliance and Enforcement, told The Fourth Estate that the two healthcare facilities had lost that privilege as the agency’s inspectors would now visit the facilities for six months until it was satisfied with their level of compliance.
Similarly, he said HeFRA had decided to pay unannounced visits to all registered healthcare facilities nationwide as part of measures to curtail the ingenious ways some facilities hid their unscrupulous activities.
He observed that the gaping loopholes in HeFRA’s monitoring system had been reviewed and that mechanisms for monitoring health facilities in the country had been enhanced.
“Relative to this particular story, [The Fourth Estate’s Quack Midwife Series], we have decided that it shouldn’t always be the case that we are prompted.
“So, we have stepped up our monitoring activities across the regions such that even facilities that have been licensed also fall in line, to make sure that the conditions for which they are licensed are not varied, which will affect patients’ safety,” he said.
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