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New Infrastructure and Improved Service at Ikot Ekpene Hospital Excites Residents

The first time Freeman Joshua sought medical attention at the Ikot Ekpene General Hospital was in 2018. Increasing chest pain, which started unannounced, made the 48-year-old site labourer pay an unplanned visit to the hospital.

Mr Joshua said instead of being treated, he was kept waiting outside the emergency unit for hours without being attended to.

“I thought they were going to respond to my case immediately, but I was asked to wait and sit outside while waiting for the doctor. I waited, and when the doctor finally arrived, they started asking me questions about my name and when last I visited a hospital. I don’t even know what to tell them because I was very weak,” Mr Joshua said of his experience years back.

Four years later, in March 2022, Mr Joshua is back at the hospital after sustaining a head injury in one of the ongoing construction sites within the hospital.

He had barely started work for the day when the lathe machine he uses in cutting iron hit his head. Blood was out instantly. The nearest hospital was the Ikot Ekpene General Hospital and there he was rushed.

“When we got to the entrance of the emergency area, surprisingly, they brought a bed to carry me inside,” Mr Joshua recounted. “The doctor quickly responded to my injury. I remember how the nurses were trying to stop the bleeding even before the doctor arrived.”

After the initial treatment, Mr Joshua was admitted to the male ward in the hospital. “When they carried me to this ward, I saw the bed and the room, everything has changed, I can easily sleep on the bed and still feel comfortable even though I am not at home,” Mr Joshua said.

He had been receiving treatment for a week when this reporter met him. 

The new face of Ikot Ekpene General Hospital

Mr Joshua’s praise for the Ikot Ekpene General Hospital was borne out of the recent renovation of the hospital by the Akwa Ibom State Government. It was commissioned for use by former president, Goodluck Jonathan in October 2021.

Speaking at the event, the Akwa Ibom state governor, Udom Emmanuel, described the commissioning as a fulfilment of his campaign promise.

“The commissioning of this general hospital is a fulfilment of a campaign promise I made, to establish world-class secondary health care facilities in all 10 federal constituencies in the state. With today’s event, we have completed and commissioned to the glory of God, all but one, (the one in Ikot Abasi) whose work is ongoing,” he said.

The components of the hospital renovation include a newly-constructed administration block, emergency unit, out-patient department, a new power generating set and solar energy machines, male wards, female wards, theatres, ultrasound, x-rays and pediatric unit.

Checks reveal that the Akwa Ibom state government budgeted the sum of N775 million naira between 2016 and 2021, for the renovation of the hospital project. In 2016, N100 million was budgeted, but nothing was assigned for the project in 2017. N150 million was budgeted in 2018 as well as in 2019, N5 million in 2020 and N350 million in 2021.

However, details on actual releases for the project in those years could not be ascertained.

Findings revealed that only the first phase of the hospital renovation was completed before the commissioning in 2020. As of May 2022, work was still ongoing on some buildings within the hospital premises.

Positive reviews

Like Mr Joshua, other residents who spoke to UDEME attest to the improved facilities and services at the hospital.

John Edem, a 32-year-old trader, couldn’t believe the services rendered when he was brought to the hospital in April 2022.

“I remember when my father had an accident two years back, it was very terrible and when we brought him to this hospital despite the severe state of the injury and the pain he was passing through, the nurses left him unattended to. But when I had a cut on my hand just last week and was admitted here, everything changed. Even the doctors were on the ground to respond to me, they immediately treated and transferred me here (Male Ward),” Mr Edem said.

Iniobong Mathew, a resident, gave birth to her baby in that hospital in November 2021. She compared the services of now to before.

“The hospital has changed. I gave birth to my baby in this hospital and even before my husband brought me inside the gate, the nurses were already running to come and carry me. But when I came with my neighbour to this hospital in 2020, no one even wanted to talk to her. We were looking for the nurses, we just asked her to sit down as we were waiting for them to come and take care of her,” she said.

Another nursing mother, Joy Umoren, who came for post-natal, told UDEME that one major aspect she found the renovation most useful is that it helps patients in identifying wards.

“Before now, you can barely identify a ward, sometimes you will ask questions if you were going to a female ward, but look at everywhere, the wards are identified with their names in front of them, so when walking to a female ward, it’s written boldly in front of it,” she said

The Chief Security Officer of the hospital, David Daniels, said the reconstruction has made their work as security officers easier.

“Before this hospital was reconstructed, it only had one entrance, both the cars coming in and cars going out will use that same gate but now we have two entrances, for the cars coming in and cars going out. We also have a new post where we stay and strategize how we secure the hospital even at night. We did not have these things before the reconstruction,” he said

Reacting to past experiences of hospital users, a medical staff of the hospital, who doesn’t want to be named for fear of victimization, blamed the unpleasant experiences on lack of electricity.

“Sometimes you will not just blame us, we cannot do certain things without light, and if the light is not there, that means we have to wait for the light. Thank God for the renovation, now we have solar inverters that power the hospital, that’s why we can respond to emergencies faster,” she said.

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