Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hospital fines

Outside the hospital between the outpatient waiting area and administration are 2 signs. One says We treat, Jesus Heals. The other is a sign which lists 16 things which are not permitted on station and the fine for each infraction of this. When one first gets here the sign is a good test of your pidgin knowledge. If you can read it and understand it, you are doing well with your pidgin, if not you need to keep working on your language training. Some of the rules include - urinating/ defecating on the grass is a 5K fine, fighting in the hospital area is 10K, 20K fine if you are drunk, 5K fine to throw trash on the ground, 2K fine for smoking, you aren't allowed to have too many wasman with the patients - but no fine is listed, 10K fine for weapons - axe, spear, knife, or gun, 5K fine if you drive a wheelchair on the grass and more.
I am not sure when the sign was placed, but I know it has been for a number of years. I have always had a lot of questions about this sign - who enforces these rules? who came up with these rules and fines? This past Sunday was the first time I was aware of anyone enforcing these rules, the other missionaries have told me that at times they do get enforced, but I guess I just hadn't seen it.
On Sunday, I was called to the ER by a nurse to see a patient. As I was walking through the OPD area I saw 2 security men quickly walking through the outpatient area toward the ER, and 1 security man opened the ER door to come inside. We usually have 1 security for the ER/OPD area, so I wasn't sure what was going on to attract all these folks at one time, but I figured it must be something big. I didn't hear any loud sounds, didn't see any fighting as I was approaching, so I wasn't sure why they were all there. When I got inside and found 5 people - 2 patients and 3 wasman, all of who were patiently waiting, no big security threat to me. I started looking at the chart of my patient when I heard the security men talking to one of the wasman.
They were questioning him as to why someone had urinated on the grass. They tried to explain that the patient was sick and didn't make it to the toilet, it was an accident. The security men understood this, but said that we have laws (rules) here on station which say you aren't allowed to do this and need to pay a 5K fine now. They didn't have 5 more kina to pay at this time, so then they said that they were going to talk to the nurse about not giving them medicine until they pay the fine. I was kind of shocked by this, having never seen or heard anyone enforce these rules before. They explained to these folks that we have a big sign on station with the rules of the station that are enforced. This was news to me.
I didn't feel it was my place to get in the middle of this and explain to these new security men that I've never seen these rules enforced and that this patient just didn't make it to the toilet, she was sick. So I didn't say anything. I didn't end up seeing the patient as they were treated by the nurse, but I do believe they got some medicines before leaving, even without paying the 5K fine. Since January we have had a new security firm, Asila, which does our security. They have done a good job and we are thankful for them. They not only do a good job of security, they also have helped out in the ER with various things that need done, which I have appreciated on more than one occasion.