UNICAL suspends 4 medical staff over 'lack of empathy' in student's death
All the staff on duty have been placed on a three-month suspension.
Agindi was a third-year student of the institution at the Department of Library and Information Science.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Agindi died on January 28 at the institution's Medical Center.
Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Prof. Florence Obi, on Tuesday briefed newsmen after receiving the autopsy report.
She said that the staff were placed on suspension for showing a lack of "emotional commitment" to the deceased.
Obi said that the autopsy gave a detailed cause of death of the student who was brought to the medical centre in a very critical state where she died less than an hour later.
"For emphasis, let me categorically state that the death of Ms Precious Agindi had nothing to do with the rumoured ruptured appendicitis as her appendix was found at autopsy to be healthy, not inflamed and intact.
"This regrettable incident sparked very strong emotions, students' demonstrations on that fateful day and a lot of misinformation and outright falsehood peddled by ill-informed and mischievous people, both within and outside the campus.
"Regrettably, the lies that have been deposited in the public space, consciously or unconsciously, as amplified by social media, have had a damaging impact on the reputation and image of our university that my administration is working very hard to protect.
"Management chose not to join issues with peddlers of falsehood at a time of deep sadness and sober reflection.
"These persons without cause hastily blamed the death on the Medical Centre and by extension the university," she said.
She noted that the university maintained studied silence and strongly investigated the handling of the patient at the facility by constituting a panel of inquiry as well as carrying out a coroner's inquest to determine the cause of death.
"This, we are sure will serve a great purpose in the future, for understanding the causes of things is one of the callings of the university.
"As I addressed protesting students on campus that fateful day, this much I promised we would do.
"In fulfillment of this, with the full approval of the family of the deceased, we ordered an autopsy which was carried out by one of the foremost Nigerian Forensic Pathologists.
"We are thankful to God that our late student was peacefully laid to rest on February 11, 2023 in her hometown, Gbe Nanav in Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State.
"Yesterday, in the presence of the representatives of the family, the Benue and Tiv Community in the University, SUG officials, members of the Panel of Inquiry, Management received the autopsy and the panel of inquiry reports."
She said that the late student never went to the university's medical centre but was only taken there by her friends in a very critical medical condition the day she died.
"Please note that Ms Precious had received treatment from other private clinics in town from the scan result and other medications presented to the nurses on duty when she was brought in.
"The panel of inquiry made up of experienced medical consultants and doctors absolved the nurses on duty of any professional negligence but saw elements of lack of emotional commitment as medical professionals.
"While life and death are both in God's hands, the management of the university strongly believes that it is our responsibility to do our best at our respective duty posts to offer the service of care both professionally and emotionally considering our quest for excellence as an academic institution.
"It is on this note that management feels that medical personnel in our medical centre must give not just professional services but emotional and psychological services which are more soothing especially when one is on a sick bed."
The VC noted that the problem of commitment to work in the University of Calabar was a pillar that the institution gives great value in all its sections, including the Medical Centre.
"The management has, therefore, decided to place all the staff on duty on a 3-month suspension for the lack of empathy and psychological support and especially for demanding money for a card against the medical centre policy of attending to patients in critical condition first.
"The above investigation has revealed, that the patient was brought to the Medical Centre critically ill and her eventual death shortly after arrival was not as a result of professional negligence by the staff of the medical centre.
"Also, there is an established clinical condition as the cause of death which in deferment to the family and in respect to the dead we do not wish to reveal.
"Yet all sorts of lies have been told both online and offline to batter the image of the University and instigate unrest among the students," she said.
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