The Elderly Lady and her Chicken

It was a usual day on the ward in the rural facility I work in (kapelebyong Rural Health Center,in north eastern Uganda), as I was doing a ward round. Like other normal days it is characterised by children having malaria and usually I review them to make sure the dosages are right and they receive the right treatment.
This particular day I noticed a chicken walking through the ward and of course I was furious(given that infection control is very important) why would a chicken be moving through the ward. Then I chased it out. The African local chicken are quite fast and of course it got away.
Surprisingly after sometime I noticed the same chicken coming back to the ward. This time I asked the nurse on the ward what was wrong with the chicken.
She then revealed to me that the chicken is for one of the elderly patients on the ward. “It has even laid eggs and it must be trying to come back to lay another one”, the nurse added!!!
This made me even angrier. How can a chicken just want to lay eggs in a hospital!!!
I matched to the patient with my eyebrows up and I noticed next to her was an old sink that was not in use, with a box and about 11 eggs. The chicken had already laid 11 eggs!!! I asked her in shock, ‘’why is your chicken laying eggs in the ward?” She replied to me, I was admitted to be in hospital for 2 weeks and unfortunately I stay alone at home. This is the 3rd time my chicken is laying eggs and the 2 previous times I wasn’t home to protect it from the neighbours who stole all the eggs. I am not willing to take any chances this time so I have decided to carry the chicken to hospital with me this time, she humbly replied. I told her that unfortunately chicken are not allowed to live in the hospital next to patients because it could cause diseases and she just kept quiet. She looked at me in confusion as to why the doctor wouldn’t understand her concern.
She put me in a dilemma I couldn’t send this lady back home because we needed to monitor her meds and it was unfortunate that she stays at home alone and all her children had moved to the city, like most of the elderly women.
We ended up having to organise for her a separate empty room to be with her chicken. I am still wondering whether it was the right decision. What would you do in the same position?

Above you can see the eggs in the broken sink!!                 Above you can see the patient’s bed!! Next to the sink!! With the chicken seated on the eggs below!!

I am Dr. Etonu Joseph, Junior medical doctor from Uganda 29 years of age, I've been practicing for 2 years in a rural area in Uganda in a county called Kapelebyong county. I Started my work when I was 26 years old in the facility. Iam the only doctor there covering the health of 89,000 people. Being a very rural area very few doctors attempted to work there but so far i am the one who has lasted the longest in the facility..The people I serve are the humble indigenous rural people of Karamoja and also Kapelebyong county..I graduated in 2012 at the University of St. Petersburg Pavlov,the Russian Federation. But i started working in this rural area in late 2014. I ride a motorcycle to work because the roads are soo bad in the rains that sometimes it rains on me! BUT I LOVE MY WORK and I have learnt a lot from the people I serve.

By. Dr. Etonu Joseph

Working towards a world where everyone can access quality health care irrespective of their socioeconomic status or location.

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