INVESTIGATION: University Of Calabar Teaching Hospital – A Valley Of The Shadow Of Death (PART 3)

In Breaking News, Crime, Health, National News, Reports

Being the third of a three part series of an investigation into the massive corruption in UCTH which has led to the loss of umpteen number of lives in four years.

Failed Laboratory, Tales Of Robbery And Rape At UCTH

By CrossRiverWatch Admin Follow @crossriverwatch

It is a given that the hospital is one of the most secured place, not just for your health but security, knowing that a well protected environment contributes to your well being, but the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital UCTH, may not be the best place for you, an investigation by CrossRiverWatch has revealed.

Also, if you wanted a test or diagnosis to confirm or deny the fears you have concerning your health, the probability of you been heartbroken with either fake results or non availability of consumables and reagents for test will be higher as the UCTH radiology department has been shut down for a while.

The level of deterioration did not start today as the Director, Centre for Petroleum Energy Economics and Law, University of Ibadan, Professor Adeola Adenikinju had said at the 15th Professor Bassey Andah Lecture held in Calabar in January 2014 that: “I have heard of cases where even doctors of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH operate patients with touch light from their mobile phone which is a disgrace that we as Nigerians should not smile at anymore but seek for possible ways of eradicating the menace.”

Following several visits to the hospital by our reporters, CrossRiverWatch gathered that the rot did not begin today with some attributing it to the inability of management to increase revenue generation.

A staff who spoke to CrossRiverWatch on conditions of anonymity said that the laboratories used to generate about seven (7) million Naira monthly with the hospital taking 50 percent while the laboratories keep the rest to buy reagents and other consumables.

“The issue like one of the laboratories, they generate over 2 or 3 point something million naira in a month. And most of them generate over 4, 5 or even 7 million naira in a month, but not in the present situation, ideally when I met them, that’s what used to be.

“Then at the end of the month, the hospital takes 50 percent of that money then give 50 percent back to the department so they can use it to run the laboratory, because they buy reagents and all of that but after some time, that money stopped. They don’t do anything about it” the staff said.

And, all these, as earlier reported by CrossRiverWatch; politics was not far from it owing to the leadership tussle between the laboratory director and the head of department (HOD).

The staff continued;
“Then, the lab system, you have heard of the court judgement where they empower the laboratory to have their own directors and then this lady, I think this former accountant general, somebody Adie from Obudu, the wife, is the present director of laboratory services of that place; I think Glory Adie, she is the present director of that place,” he said.

But, Mrs. Adie’s directorship did not come easy as the Head of Civil Service of the Federation had to intervene.

“The Lady had to go meet Winifred Oyo-Ita, head of service. At a point, they even queried the CMD and the CMD had to give director to her but yet everything should pass through the HOD even the director’s leave letters which must go through that HOD for the HOD to sign that if they want materials to come to the laboratory again, they must accept that everything should pass through these HODs before materials come to the lab.

“And then as they dey fight, the work is just suspended, nothing is just happening again. They say if they want the work to pass through the HOD, that the court has granted them and even the civil service rules, to have a director, how can a director go back to the level of HOD.

The staff continued; “If you meet CMD (Chief Medical Director) to talk about the money, the next thing that came up was a directive to pass every complaint through the HOD and this HOD, they are actually students HOD’s. These people are medical doctors, they use to be HOD’s to medical students. Doctors wey come specialise for lab.

“So because of that, they just leave everything there that whenever they want to accept the HOD, the work go start again. For now they get skeletal work wey dey go on. They don’t pay money to bank again, they pay cash. When they see a patient, they divert the patient privately,” the staff said.

Photo used to illustrate that there is nothing happening at the laboratories in the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (Credit: CrossRiverWatch)

But, the problem is not just political will as some senior staff have also taken advantage of the situation and now thrive on referring patients to private laboratories which charge higher rates and get 20 percent as kickbacks.

Another staff who was secretly recorded said that: “Then majorly, those consultants, what they do is, they send patients out to do test. You talk about a test like Full Blood Count that is done in the hospital for NGN1,500, it is done for NGN5,000 outside. We have another one like Urea Electrolyte, they do (it) in the hospital for about NGN1,200 and outside is NGN5,000. And another test they do for NGN5,000, outside is for NGN25,000.

“They direct them to specific places where they go to do those test and then when they do so, as a professional, they tell you when you direct a patient there, you get 20 percent of whatever the person pays. As those patients go there, they document 20 percent of whatever is being spent there. You come to sign at the end of the month.”

All these, findings revealed, led to a stop in common radiography practices with interns going out to learn their trade elsewhere.

“It will also interest you to know that in that hospital, there is nothing like X ray, as simple as ultrasound, they don’t do it, the radiography department is closed down.

“The interns wey we get there, they only go to work and leave anytime they want. When they go to work, they even go somewhere else where they can learn something else. And they still dey direct people where to go do X ray before they accept am. Then they get their cut from those places. Unlike for the hospital … the hospital is just scattered,” the staff said.

A patient had told CrossRiverWatch in an earlier interview that: “(The) Lab is not functioning well. If they manage to collect samples they just copy anything and give as result. It has happened to me twice. I do all medical examinations at Asi Ukpo now. The doctors always say, please go to Asi Ukpo.”

Photo used to illustrate that the laboratory in the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital is not functioning well (Credit: CrossRiverWatch)

And, a senior management staff confided in our correspondent that the hospital has some sort of agreement with the Asi Ukpo medical and diagnostic center which is less than a five minutes drive away.

He however failed to mention what the agreement was about and why there was one in the first place that sees the hospital accept diagnosis from the medical and diagnostic center.

These challenges would have been surmountable with hope, but the tales of robberies and rape left several reporters awed due to the poor security architecture.

From 7pm, the access road leading to the hospital, from the former Calabar Urban Development Authority (CUDA) office to the University of Calabar Secondary School gate is usually deserted.

Both residents and shop owners around the area desert the road for fear of criminals.

Some resident who spoke with our reporters testify of the dangers of plying the road when it is dark.

In the part two of this series, CrossRiverWatch had reported on the nonfunctional pharmaceutical department and the racketeering going on with prescriptions and drugs purchase from pharmacies around the hospital.

In this part three, the link between the non functional pharmacy and how it has led to the robbery, rape and in rare cases, deaths of loved ones to patients.

“Generally this is noted for the criminal activities that goes on here, people are robbed, raped and sometimes killed if you resist them. But what will you do if you have your loved one dying in the hospital and you have to get him/her a drug, you have to take the risk” said a resident who wouldn’t want her name mentioned.

Many recount how women have been severally robbed and raped by criminals who waylay them when going out at night to purchase drugs.

“Some of these rapes, robberies and sometimes untimely death could have been curtailed if management of the hospital can live up to expectation by ensuring the pharmacy is well equipped with drugs.

“My mother was rushed in to the emergency ward of the hospital for respiratory related issues at about 9pm. She had difficulty breathing, and after examinations, the doctors gave me a piece of paper containing names of drugs, after searching the entire hospital for the drugs without success I had to go out and that was how I was robbed and almost raped if not for the timely intervention policemen on patrol, if the drugs I was looking for were within the hospital premises I wouldn’t have had that experience,” a lady identified simply as Mary said.

Collaborating Mary’s testimony, Anthony who lost his mother in the hospital regretted the circumstances his mother died.

He averred that: “If the hospital had the drug the doctors prescribed for me that night my mum would still be alive today, poor management killed my mother and nothing else.”

The practice of drug racketeering has been going on for years, findings had revealed with a senior source in the hospital describing the trend as “a normal thing.”

A staff earlier quoted in the part two of the series who pleaded to remain anonymous said: ” I think the blame should be laid squarely at the feet of management. The truth is that some of the senior doctors and Professors have big pharmacies spread across the city where they often direct patients to go and purchase drugs from instead of the hospital’s pharmacy.”

And, some pharmaceutical representatives who confided in this reporter said the management of the hospital owes drug supplies monies running into hundreds of millions as earlier reported.

Some pharmaceutical reps who spoke with CrossRiverWatch said the level of mismanagement by the hospital management caused their company to stop supplying drugs to the hospital.

One rep said most drug companies stopped supplying the hospital drugs as far back as three to four years ago.

“This whole thing is a fraud my brother, the management of the hospital are deeply indulged in a terrible fraud. This whole thing is intentional and a way to siphon monies.”

Last year the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had invaded the hospital, squeezing the CMD, Dr. Thomas Agan over issues of corruption.

However, the robberies do not end with the loved ones stepping out late at night alone as petty thievery thrives in the sick bays, wards among others.

Now, CrossRiverWatch had reported on similar incidents in May 2017, and patients then had said that thieves operated without let or hinder.

“They can’t steal my thing. One thief entered the ward I am in by after 2am on Good Friday. Today things were stolen from Nurses room…. The security woman said the thieves went upstairs and stole phones from female medical ward,” a patient texted.

“I am in a private room so nobody can enter there. The guy that came to steal the door of the private room was caught. He removed the door. Its (sic) like he knows how to fix and remove glass doors.

“A nurse is even complaining that a baby was stolen in post natal ward. Some months ago, some guys robbed A&E (Accident and Emergency). They even came with guns and nothing was done about it.

“Hmmm, the way they are stealing I can’t tell whether the nurses are involved. Well the things that are happening in this hospital…. I am just wondering if the CMD, CMAC and others are sleeping.”

But, management sources insist that the CMD is not sleeping as he has turned around the fortunes of the hospital.

However, the management had kept mute when contacted for information.

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