Revitalising Tertiary Healthcare in Nasarawa

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Nasarawa State, with only two tertiary hospitals, had before now suffered the burden associated with poor healthcare, leading to increased morbidity and mortality rate. But the revitalisation of the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, Lafia hopes to bring a glimmer of hope. Emmanuel Ukumba writes

Ever had a sick loved one who is unable to access healthcare because the hospital has not enough manpower, infrastructure and equipment to treat the sick patient? Well, that was the state of things in Nasarawa State even with two tertiary hospitals available until it’s recent revitalisation.

For instance, before now, Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH), Lafia, struggled with providing effective treatment and management to its patients due to lack of doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and poor infrastructural facilities, as well as equipment.

The hospital could boast of only few consultants, registrar doctors, while the facilities available were overwhelmed by people. On infrastructure, it only had 200 beds for the population of people in Southern senatorial zone of Nasarawa and even part of the Northern senatorial zone of the state.

But the Chief Medical Director, DASH, Dr. Hassan Ikrama says that will be a thing of the past with the revatilisation of the hospital, with a focus on increasing personnel, improving infrastructure and providing necessary equipment for easy running of the tertiary facility.

Bed Space

Speaking with THISDAY recently in his office on how he was trying to improve on what he met on ground on assumption of duty, Ikrama said when he came on board, he realised the casualty department could only take 13 patients at a time.

“Before now we put patients on the floor even with bleeding bodies. There was not enough space for them. So the first thing was to expand the casualty department and add 20 more bed spaces. Right now, we have put it to use and it is really taking care of most of the patients that come. Now we hardly see cases of patients being treated.

“In the wards as well, there were not enough bed spaces. We now have additional bed spaces. So we have doubled the bed capacity, which means it can now take twice as it used to,”he said.

Provision of Offices

While lamenting that staff of the tertiary health facility don’t have enough offices, he said: “There are administrative staff and consultants with no offices at all. So now, we are going to have a whole block of offices for our consultants and our administrative staff. So, imagine we have very senior consultants, they come to hospital and they don’t have where to sit. They just see patients and leave. But now we are going to have offices where it is going to be very conducive for them to work.

“We are also going to have another radiology unit. The one that we have now is grossly inadequate for the need of the hospital. And we are going to have in that new Radiology a CT scan and other sophisticated machines,” Ikrama stated.

Equipment

In terms of equipment, the CMD disclosed that the hospital has made its plea to the state government and already the department of obstetrics and genecology has taken delivery of all the equipment they require, adding that the institution was going to get accreditation for West Africa College of Surgeons in obstetrics and genecology very soon.

He said the same treatment has also been given to the surgical department of the hospital, noting that very soon the hospital will also do the same thing to pediatrics department to maintain progress in that regard.

Free Internet Facility

One of the unique facets of this revitalisation is the provision of free internet facility for staff.

On this the CMD said: “To make the place more conducive, we have our internets now free for all our staff to help in terms of research and communication. It will also be a means of communication between our doctors here and other places.”

Revamping Security

Surprisingly, one of the challenges that once faced the hospital was the issue of theft and it was on a daily basis. According to the CMD, when he came in, the issue of security was a serious thing in this hospital.

“Theft was almost a daily affair. We have revamped the security system and we have provided CCTV in all the nooks and crannies of the hospital consequently, we have not recorded any serious cases of theft since I came to this hospital,” Ikrama stated.

Commencement of SERVICOM

He also explained that since the commencement of SERVICOM activities in the hospital, the hospital has made tremendous achievements most specifically in the area of outpatients, adding that before now, the hospital used to see very minimal number of patients, but that with the coming of SERVICOM in DASH, it was now able to see more than 150 outpatients daily.

An Administrative Officer of the hospital, who doubles as Head of the SERVICOM Unit, Yusuf Yakubu, said it was an achievement the DASH was able to do with the commitment of SERVICOM.

According to Yakubu, since the inception of SERVICOM, the hospital has made tremendous achievement in service improvement in medical care and other services related to the daily running of the healthcare facility.

He said: “Before my arrival, seeing doctors then was a difficult task because of the mode the system was at then. When I became the head of SERVICOM, I looked at the situation and I said no to it. At that time, it was a very difficult thing for patients to gain access to doctors.

“They (patients) said as at then it was when you have somebody that you will be able to see a doctor to access medical care. When I came, I said the hospital is meant for patients. Without patient, there would be no hospital. By such, we devised a means making it simpler for them to gain access to medical services.”

To ease the task before SERVICOM unit in the specialist hospital, the SERVICOM head said that the unit has been able to introduce numbering that had helped the health institution to date.

He explained, “the use of number is based on first come, first serve. When you are able to come, you get number and your number is your doctor. If you have number one, you will be seen first, up to the last number given. That helps us in attending to as many numbers of patients as possible as against the initial system of operation. Because then, it was not so organised in such a way that people will come and sit down; then it was haphazard, in fact, if you don’t know somebody then, it will be hard to see a medical doctor.”

Ongoing Construction

On the visit to the site where construction of new structures was ongoing, the Site Engineer, Aliyu Usman Oboshi, told THISDAY that: “basically, there are four structures as you can see on this site. There are two wards; one for male and the other for female. And the one that is at the foundation level is the clinic and the administrative block. The top is the admin and the ground floor is the clinic. The other one to the left is the consultants unit; with consultants offices. Consultants will be up; part of it is the administrative block. So basically that is what we have on ground.”

When asked when these edifices would be ready for usage by the hospital, Oboshi said: “By Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura’s desire, he wanted to commission this project before he leaves office, and we are looking forward to that. We are on track. We have all the finances. Everything is on ground and we are backed up. He has given us all what we needed, so the ball is actually in our court and we are really working hard to meeting that date.”