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Why LUTH is over-crowded, by CMD


* To expand children emergency wards from 35 beds to 215
THE management of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, has attributed the rising cases of overcrowding in the hospital wards to high referral rate. It however said to tackle the problem, it has commissioned a new 80-bed paediatric ward and the Federal Government plans to expand the Olikoye Rasome-Kuti Children’s Centre from 35 beds to 100 beds under the 2010 budget.

Chief Medical Director, LUTH, Prof. Akin Osibogun, at a press briefing on plans by the hospital to improve patients’ care said: “LUTH provides complex and specialised care. It is a referral hospital of last resort. In order words, cases that are bad or poor are referred to LUTH. We are very reluctant to turn them back when the beds are full. When the beds are full would you recommend that we turn back the patients? We do our best to help the patients; we do our best to provide our best within the available resources. Equity demands that we must not deny any patient who needs service. Even though the beds are full.

“The patients that are referred here are cases that are so bad that other hospitals cannot handle them. We care for them and God heals a lot of them. About 500 babies visit the children emergency per month, which translates to 100 bad cases weekly. About six to 10 of these babies brought there have been certified complex and it is not the same outcome with normal cases. This hospital takes care of complex and specialised cases that have been to different hospitals and they could not handle them.”

Osibogun said another reason why LUTH is over-burdened with patients is cost. “Because of cost, more patients come here. Initial deposit in the intensive care unit with ventilator in LUTH is N40,000 compared to N750,000 in private hospital. We need to appreciate what government is doing. These are facts that you can easily cross check,” he said.

The LUTH boss added: “The government is highly subsidising cost here, so you expect more patients. There is no hospital in Lagos that can have the assemblage of skilled manpower we have. So naturally, referrals of poor cases to LUTH are high.”

Head of Department of Paediatrics LUTH, Dr. Adebola Akinsulie on his part, said more than 800 critically ill children are referred to the hospital monthly. “They are almost dead. We even get scores of patients from Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and the transient time is very long. In a month we can have up to six to 10 dying. It is a miracle because most are pushed out from private hospital,” Akinsulie said.

On plans to address the situation, Osibogun said: “The Federal Government has been supporting the hospital in improving the quality. Very recently we commissioned the new paediatric ward with 80 beds. 80 additional beds will be available to existing 35 beds. We also have 34 beds in ward D1 for children, and 32 beds respectively in D2 and D3.

“The government is expanding the services. In addition to that, the Federal Government has budgetary allocation for LUTH to expand the children emergency unit from 35 beds to 100-bed unit. It is in year 2010 budget that has been signed into law.”

Reacting to a recent newspaper report, (not The Guardian), that two babies die weekly in LUTH, Osibogun said: “I plead with gentlemen of the press to be more thorough in their research. Institutions are managed and run by human beings. We may not be perfect, there may be errors. The report said ‘Cauldron where two babies die weekly’. Two out of how many?”

On plans by the hospital to ensure there is an efficient feedback system where patients can complain or report any grievance, Osibogun said: “We have SERVICOM Centre with call numbers 07070207124. It is available in all service areas in the hospital. Any patient or relation that is not satisfied should call this number to complain. The second level of complaint, is that the Federal Government has provided a toll-free number, 30500.

“The Hospital has insisted that every member of staff should wear a name tag. That measure is to ensure quality delivery of services.”

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