By Daud Olatunji
Recently, no fewer than 66 nurses retired from the Ogun state Hospital Management Board after serving 35 statutory years with government hospitals. The state government in its appreciation held a send-off for them which featured a lot of merry making activities. The retired nurses had worked in almost all the state-owned health facilities across the state before their retirement age approached.
Vanguard gathered that, the government usually holds send-off for retired nurses annually, but, this year was unprecedented as no fewer than 66 nurses retired in a year.
State-owned health facilities
Vanguard who spoke with most of them observed that, they were happy with the government and expected the State government to fast track the payment of their gratuities.
While some of them confessed that few years ago while they were awaiting their retirement age, they had begun some businesses such as trading, networking, farming among others, others said they did not have the time to serve themselves throughout the 35 years in service, but, hopeful to begin serving themselves now after the state assignment .
All of the retirees who took turns to speak with Vanguard at the send-off party appealed to the government to reciprocate the gesture of their service and pay them their gratuities promptly.
While sharing her experience as a nurse in the state hospitals in the last 35 years, Mrs Basirat Adetoro , said between 1984 and 1986 at Ijebu-Ode School of Nursing, robbers and cultists harassed them several times but God saved their lives.
She lamented that most times patients vented their anger on them due to the paucity of funds. They said when some of the people came to the state hospitals, they believed health care is free and wanted to be treated free.
Out of the 66 nurses only four were males who also shared their experiences as nurses in state hospitals.
According to Ajisegiri Michael who said he served for 27 years but had to retire because of his age, most people, especially in the rural areas don’t want to obtain cards when they come for treatment.
“They were ready to fight any nurse that asked them to either obtain cards or ask them to pay certain amount before the treatment. They said government has told them health care is free”.
Most of them also spoke on the transfer which they said almost crippled their families. According to them, any time the government transferred any of them from one Senatorial district to another, their families bear the brunt.
Engine room of the health sector
While few of them confessed that it affected their domestic duties as they were not available when needed, others said they were lucky to have husbands that understood them who stood firmly with them.
When our correspondent spoke with the husband of one of them who came to celebrate with his wife, Prince Adegoke Balogun, a husband to Basirat Adetoro, he said he was able to cope whenever his wife was transferred and he would visit her regularly.
Meanwhile, the State commissioner for Health, Dr Babatunde Ipaye has described nurses as the engine room of the health sector as their care giving role gives speedy healing power to patients apart from the prescribed drugs.
Dr. Ipaye said, Nursing profession was a service to humanity while commending the retired Nurses for their selfless services during their service years.
On the effect of the 66 retired Nurses bowing out of the State Service within one year, Dr. Ipaye said, a need analysis would be conducted to identify where there is need for replacement and his Ministry would do the needful within the shortest time.
“We’ll conduct a need analysis, look at the gap that has been created with their retirement and do needful to ensure the gap does not affect service delivery,” Ipaye submitted.
The Director of Nursing Department in the State Hospitals Management Board, Mrs. Caroline Odutayo appreciated the retirees for a peaceful working relationship, saying all would be done to ensure the documents are processed for quick payment of their pensions and gratuity.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry of health, Dr. Adesanya Ayinde also said that he would support the moves to ensure prompt payment of the gratuities of the retired nurses.