Professor Jesse Abiodun Otegbayo is the Chief Medical Director, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, and Professor of Medicine University of Ibadan. He is also a Gastroenterologist Consultant and physician to the University College Hospital with experience spanning over 35 years in the health industry
In this exclusive interview with Western Post News, the professor of note and repute spoke on sundry issues bothering on the iconic hospital located in the heart beat of the city of Ibadan among others. Professor Otegbayo also spoke on the challenges confronting the hospital and his plans to improve the system and make UCH rank among the best in the world.
Would you say you are impressed and satisfied with the standard you met on ground when you assumed office as the Chief Medical Director of University College Hospital Ibadan?
Well, that is a difficult question to answer, because when you are impressed it means things are so fantastic that you probably don’t need to do anything. So, on the account of that I won’t say I was completely impressed because there are lots of things which need to be done that were yet undone, though, a lot had been done already.
So, what are your plans to improve the standard of this Hospital?
When I came in I discovered that a lot of facilities we need for our clinical services were lacking, such as patient care. Our theatre were not in good shape, the clinics were not in good shape, the wards we put our patients were also not in good shape. And because of the age of UCH and lack of maintenance over the years there are a lot of things to be be put in place to make the hospital look the standard that it should be.
If you look around you will see that a lot of our buildings need renovation and when you go to our service areas, you will see that we need a number of equipment. The hospital is not just a building but the totality of the staff, their knowledge, their skill and all the improvement they need to operate. So, what I am focusing on is the functionality of the Hospital so that patients will have the best of care.
Sir, in which areas do you have challenges and how have you been tackling them and proferring solutions to them?
Well, there are few major areas I will highlight even though we have some other areas. One is the issue of water supply. A lot of the pipes and water venticulations were done in 1953 when the hospital were built, and a lot of them have dilapidated over the years, our buildings, our infrastructures and so on. We don’t have enough water to run around, many times our doctors use pure water sachets to wash their hands after seeing the patients. And when you visit some of the toilets due to deterioration in plumbing system, there are lots of leakages here and there, even the little water we pump don’t get to the areas of usage.
When I came in, I invited consortium of water engineers to help us look around and tell us what we can do, they gave us a rating of the first phase to an amount of N250 million which is what we are looking for now.
The second one is the challenge of power supply. Once power goes off, the machine giving patients breathing will stop and that could cost life of patients. So we need stable and steady 24 hours power supply. We have been working on this, particularly on energy from the independent power project. What the national Grid is giving us is grossly inadequate, so power is another area of our challenge.
Number three is the issue of equipments. Our theatres, clinics, wards are not in good shape. The Radiology department and standard of the laboratory of the hospital if rated cannot pass the litmus test. So, we need to equip all these areas and of course our personnel. Though, we have quite a reasonable number of personnel, there are certain areas we need to employ more. Incidentally, a recruitment exercise is going on and of course we also need highly technical personnel because our intention is to migrate the hospital from tertiary to Quartenary Health Care Service whereby we can handle cases like kidney, liver and other organs transplant which make our people go to places like India, United Kingdom, Germany for such matters. So we need personnel for that and we also need training with skills that our personnel need to have.
Other challenges is that the hospital is congested. Look around and you will see a lot of people in the clinic, everywhere is jampacked, some cannot even sit down, we need more buildings to accommodate our clients. Our services have expanded so much over the years, our buildings in our service areas are not commensurate so we more.
We have already started working on the site we need to build more buildings to accomodate our patients.
When you get to some of these buildings you will see that the place is chaotic, we don’t have the resources but we are looking for money and well meaning individual who can be of help to us.
Owing to the fact that UCH has catalogue of challenges, how have you been administering the hospital since you took over as CMD?
Since I came on board, I have been trying my best having been in the system as Director of Clinical Services, Research and Training for four years between 2010 and 2014. I have been in and around UCH for 35 years since I did my medical education. I did my undergraduate and post graduate here, I am a bit familiar with the system. With that familiarity I was able to look at critical areas to start, so, we are doing something on how we can generate fund internally and of course when people know your track record they are more likely to support you. I can say I am benefiting from the immense support of our staff, especially when they know the direction of the leadership and there is integrity in the leadership. When they know you are fair and just, there is the tendency to support you in your vision. I made my vision known to the hospital community by conducting a retreat at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
when I came in, I did a management retreat to let them know the direction of the management and we have keyed into it.
I mentioned two key things which include welfare of the staff and our patients care which must improve.
Sir, what’s your assessment of the health sector in the country and Oyo State?
We are not doing well, I will not even need to think about that. Most of our Primary Health care services are not functional. Most of the primary Health Centre that are supposed to be run by the state government are under equipped, under staffed and dis functional . Government need to work on the improvement of the primary Health care Centres to make it functional.
So, which way forward for UCH?
For UCH, firstly, we like to see a better funding from the federal government. Secondly, we like to see a better commitment of our personnel to their work and to the task of achieving the set standard. Thirdly, we want to focus as a management on the functionality of the hospital and by this we can make use of the experience of our staff, providing the appropriate equipment and personnel and providing the ambience of the environment, by this we believe our patients will enjoy our services when they access it. These are the things we need to put in place to go a long way in improving the UCH.