Does Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) lack basic amenities as claimed by some patients? No, says its Chief Medical Director (CMD) Prof Wale Oke in this interview with OYEYEMI GBENGA-MUSTAPHA.
Patients complain of disgusting services at LASUTH. Their complaints range from lack of vintage services at the laboratory and pharmacy to lack of bed space, why is that?
The Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, visited the hospital recently during the launch of the helipad. He toured the hospital and the college. He checked Ayinke House, drainage system and the roads. And he was also at the utility units, including the laboratory. He held a meeting with the management and Lagos State Ministry of Health, Alausa representatives. At the meeting, Ambode said the Built and Transfer (BAT) laboratory should be overhauled. Phillips Electrics Limited, under its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Biodun Disu, has taken over the laboratory’s restructuring on PPP basis.
Structural changes are taking place at the lab, so it can accommodate more equipment for radiology, biochemistry, haematology, immunology and others. By April, the hospital would have a standard laboratory. Because of the work going on there, we request our patients to go out to do some tests like CT scan. With Phillips, LASUTH will have two MRI scanning machine, Mammogram machine, and X-ray facilities, among others.
What happened to DEUX Project Limited that handled same?
Deux Project was given the contract to handle the project at LASUTH and maintain it, but for one reason or the other, the government found it wanting. And the contract was terminated. The process of termination took long, but by June, the lab would be ready.
And what about the dearth of medical personnel?
As I am talking to you, about 78 new personnel have been recruited into the system. About 28 are consultants, 30 to 40 nurses; others, such as radiologists have been employed to complement the workforce. Employment of resident doctors is on. About 70 are needed. This will address the issue of being overworked. A teaching hospital such as this will always need more staff. In the last two years, a stock of the hospital was taken by the government. By end of this month, the government will employ more house officers. .
How about non-availability of drugs, especially essential and orphan drugs?
The Joint Venture Pharmacy (JVP) cannot always have drugs because as stocks are being taken, demands keep coming in. And then to take new stocks requires a procedure; if a patient needs same that moment the drug can’t be readily available. I am always in support of patients, for the simple reason that it could be me or anybody; I have already been looking into that Pharmacy department to see how to improve on what obtains there. That department boasts of best hands in pharmacy nationwide. I will investigate further on non-availability of medical devices or utilities, such as laryngoscope and other ‘non-invasive’ devices. It is really an embarrassment that patients could not obtain that in the hospital. Another thing is that patients or their relatives are always in haste when in need of something. If an officer is working on a request, and another comes in, same will want to hurry the system and the personnel wouldn’t want to commit any error, so the person may feel offended or walk away, concluding that his requests are not available. Also, some misplaced their medical list and will just conjecture some name. That could frustrate the person attending to them, who normally will insist on seeing the list.
But in a situation where the patient is with the list and yet cannot obtain same at the hospital’s Joint Venture Pharmacy. How do you explain that?
Foreign exchange (forex)is nobody’s friend at the moment. Nationwide, forex is biting local production and importation of drugs and other devices. LASUTH is not the only one experiencing devaluation. When demands are being placed and agreement signed, the next minute there is a fluctuation and scarcity of forex, and the supplier calls in to say sorry the money released to him cannot service the request, what can one do? And patients are awaiting the supplies. It is a phase in our country. Forex will stabilise. And we get our supplies directly from manufacturers or representatives, which beats the prices down, so when patients go out, they either don’t find the supply of it is expensive or an outright fake.
Before, patients complained about nurses’ attitude but now it has shifted to the Joint Venture Pharmacy. Why is that?
Over the years, I have learnt that when somebody needs something in a hurry, such will hurry up the system. And every staff is careful not to make error because if a wrong device or drug is applied results could be fatal. Every year since I resumed here, we always hold three workshops on attitudinal changes. Very bad cases are referred here without any communication despite our having a communication system. Our communication system is not used at all. And when such patients come in, their relatives want everything done straight away; there is a place for preparedness, even for emergencies, for good results. Abroad, when a patient is being conveyed from point ABC to XYZ proper communication is done to ensure readiness for the patient. We may receive four or five such cases at a go, and then we are left to decide in frenzy. These are not excuses, though. I will look into that, promptly. I want to re-state that CEO and MDs of hospitals and other heads of parastatals are put to run, investigate and resolve issues. There are points where phone numbers are placed for patients to call and register their observations.
Why did you order that tyres of ambulances and utility vehicles that are not Lagos branded, within LASUTH premises be deflected?
It was done just once. And the reason being that we had arrangement with some diagnostic centres, that when the hospital needs their services they will be called upon. I left instruction with the Chief Security Officer (CSO) that he should confirm with the Head of Department once such wants to come in here, if we are expecting them or not. The simple reason being that, I don’t want the system to bring in charlatans that may want to capitalise on or exploit the state of our laboratory. The one day, I went to do ward round, and guess what, I saw a branded bus fully operating a laboratory here at LASUTH. That was embarrassing, you know. I gave them five minutes to move out. They didn’t and I got their tyres deflated. That sent a strong warning that I meant business, and they now follow the procedure the hospital laid down. As a teaching hospital, we need to do series of diagnosis. So, the new arrangement is to have minimum of five LASAMBUS buses here at the hospital on standby, which take care of the lacuna. Once the BT is fully operational, that will be totally resolved.
Source: The Nation