The Publisher and Editor in Chief of Vision Newspapers Online, Ezeakukwu Emmanuel Nsoedo interacted with the CMAC, Dr Ugboaja Joseph on several burning issues that the members of the community are itching for an explanation.
This interaction became more of an urgent call considering the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation that often triggers people to absorb frivolous news as substantive.
• What one needs to move the hospital to greater heights is committed leadership
• Leadership with a clear vision is a panacea to success
Ezeakukwu: How is the hospital managing some of the health caregivers asked to go on isolation?
Some of our staff have been asked to go on self-isolation because of involvement in the management of confirmed Covid-19 patients.
When they go on self-isolation, they are followed up on the phone. If they report any symptom related to covid-19, we quickly collect samples and send for analysis. Otherwise, they return to work after 14 days as per the NCDC guideline.
Ezeakukwu: Are they on self-isolation, if they are, how is the hospital supporting them?
Ugboaja: Yes, they are on self-isolation, and we follow them up with calls, support, and counselling.
Ezeakukwu: The feelers out there is that the hospital is grossly understaffed, what is the true position of things?
Ugboaja: While that may be true for some departments, others are well-staffed. However, even in those understaffed departments, work goes on at an optimal level, and you will hardly notice it.
Ezeakukwu: As the chairman of Covid-19 at NAUTH, why is it necessary to send your staff on isolation when they ought to be equipped with PPE in the first place?
Ugboaja: Good question.
Sometimes, the patients do not present with typical symptoms, i.e., cough, fever, breathlessness at presentation, and therefore there won’t be suspicion at that point in time.
These patients will go-ahead to develop symptoms subsequently after being managed as a non-Covid patient.
At other times, though sparingly, a suspected Covid-19 patient can beat our surveillance and get admitted into our ward.
Again, sometimes there is a breach in infection, prevention & control at the Isolation & treatment center, and the affected staff are asked to self-isolate.
Ezeakukwu: The NAUTH structures and the environment have been adjudged to be substandard, what effort is being made by the management to uplift the quality by moving to the permanent site to address the deficiencies?
Ugboaja: To an extent, that is true because of the congestion and space constraints occasioned by the temporary site.
The current management led by Prof Igwegbe AO and the Board are making a committed effort to decongest the hospital by facilitating the movement to the permanent site. Once that is achieved, the environment will look better.
Ezeakukwu: It is alleged that NAUTH leadership is not enjoying a favorable relationship with the relevant supervisory bodies; hence, the lack of support, how do you plan to address the anomaly?
Ugboaja: That’s a valid concern. In the management of organizations and institutions, there are external and internal stakeholders. I guess you are referring to the external stakeholders, which in our case, include the ministry of health and finance, the political stakeholders, the community stakeholders as well as the traditional institutions.
In Nigeria today, effective management of public enterprises requires the effective engagement of all the stakeholders for organizational development and improvement. In NAUTH, we are lucky to have community stakeholders who are interested in, and willing to contribute in concrete terms to the progress and development of the hospital.
If I have the opportunity, one of my main strategic approaches will be regular engagement with key stakeholders to keep them apprised of the going-on in the hospital, solicit their support in terms of infrastructural development, and make sure they get what is their due from the hospital.
I have already started stakeholders’ engagement to sensitize them on the need to have more than a passing interest in the hospital, and I am happy with the responses I am getting. As I said, we are lucky to be in this town with a lot of stakeholders who are willing to contribute to the development of the hospital. All that is required is a committed leadership with a clear vision and roadmap for achieving the vision as well as the roles expected of the stakeholders. That leadership must be experienced, sincere, transparent, accountable, and genuinely interested and committed to the movement and development of the permanent site.