By Our Reporters
The University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) is beginning to reap the results of the massive investments in accreditation of clinical training programmes, procurement of much needed equipment as well as infrastructural constructions and upgrades, embarked upon by the current administration of the hospital under the leadership of Prof. Ikpeme A. Ikpeme.
The hospital which was established in 1979 with the aim of providing quality tertiary healthcare and training of manpower to meet the growing healthcare needs in the state and beyond had, before the emergence of Prof. Ikpeme as Chief Medical Director, become almost comatose. Infrastructure was dilapidated, the environment was dirty and smelling, accreditation had been lost in nearly all academic training programmes and basic equipment was lacking in many departments.
Our team of reporters who have been investigating the authenticity of claims of improvements in service delivery, infrastructural upgrades and outcomes of accreditation visitations from different academic Faculties to the hospital have confirmed that though there is still room for improvement, the hospital has indeed taken a new shape since the current leadership took over.
On September 15th 2021, the hospital under the current leadership carried out it’s first open heart surgery. The complicated medical feat was made possible through the activation of a previously abandoned Memorandum of Understanding signed between the hospital and the VOOM Foundation. In a Press Release to announce the feat, the hospital had then stated, “Today, Wednesday 15th September 2021, at 6.43 pm, history was made in our UCTH when the first-ever open heart surgery was performed in our hospital and the patient safely wheeled out to our Intensive Care Unit. She had received a Mitral valve replacement following about six and a half hours of surgery. This has been the culmination of two years of hard work, determination, sacrifice, vision and focus at different levels of our hospital. And we must offer sincere gratitude to God and all who worked to make this happen”.
As a benefit of massive investments in accreditation and equipment, three Resident Doctors from the hospital recently produced Best overall results nationwide at different postgraduate medical examinations in the county and West African subregion. While Dr. Vivien Mesembe Otu had the Best Overall result at the Part 2 Fellowship Examination in the Faculty of Paediatrics of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, Dr. Felicia Okon made the Best Overall result in the Membership Examination of the Faculty of Community Medicine & Public Health of the West African College of Physicians. Dr. Udeme Debua completed the triumvirate and produced the Best Overall result in the Part 1 Examination of the Faculty of Family Medicine, National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria. In praise of their achievements, the Chief Medical Director described them as “our Amazons”, and they were duly appreciated by the Governing Board of the Hospital.
In April 2020, the hospital benefited from a Federal Government funded intervention in Covid-19 projects. Our investigations reveal that the Prof. Ikpeme led UCTH Management used the funds judiciously to build and equip a state of the art 10-bed Intensive Care Unit, a Molecular and Research Laboratory, equipping of a 33-bed Isolation Treatment Centre as well as procurement of Personal Protection Equipment some of which are still available for use.
Our independent investigations confirm that the Department Radiology has undergone massive renovation, remodeling and re-equipping. From a Department with an outdated and non-functional xray machine and unserviceable Ultrasound scan machine at the time Ikpeme took over, the Department now boasts 2 functional direct digital xray machines, two 4-D Ultrasound scan machines, a direct digital Mammography machine and a 32- slice CT scanner, in addition to an aesthetically appealing and ambient environment. As a result of these interventions, the Department of Radiology for the first time in the history of the hospital, recently secured full accreditation for the training of all cadres of Radiologists from both the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria and the West African College of Surgeons. These accreditations coming for the first time 43year history of the hospital were aptly described as “the icing on the cake” by the Management of the hospital.
The Dental Department, Antenatal clinic, Labour ward and female Orthopaedic ward have also benefited from renovation, remodeling and deployment of new equipment.
Infrastructural constructions have included a 1km internal road leading to the doctors quarters, completion of the doctor’s quarters abandoned 33 years ago, as well as a Maternal and Child Health Centre. Work is currently ongoing at the new, bigger and befitting Accident and Emergency Department while the Neurosurgical and Stroke Centre is at at an advanced stage of completion.
The current UCTH Management has paid attention to aesthetics. The Hospital drive-in is now aesthetically appealing with the relocation of the unsightly business stalls that welcomed visitors into the hospital in bygone times, to the newly created UCTH Central Business Zone. When asked about painting the hospital, the CMD’s response was that plans were afoot for that after correction of the leakages in the superstructure. He however appealed for support in this regard and other areas of intervention.
The Department of Ophthalmology has benefited from massive equipment procurement, a Stress ECG machine is now present in the State and domiciled in the Department of Internal Medicine, in addition to the furnishing of the male and female medical wards with brand new beds, new instruments for Orthopaedics, new Anaesthetic Machines and multiparameter patient monitors for Anaesthesia, etc. The UCTH Diabetic Retinopathy Screening programme is only one of two such programmes nationwide with a dedicated Fundus camera domiciled in the programme.
Our investigations confirm that the claims by the Management are indeed true. Asked what the most challenging problems are now, each member of Management independently identified power supply, funding and staff attitude. However, the Hospital is firmly on course to deliver on her mandate to our people.