Partial view of the Oniyama Specialist and Teaching Hospital and one of the wards Partial view of the Oniyama Specialist and Teaching Hospital and one of the wards

GOL Asked to Provide Subsides to Private Health Institutions Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

MONROVIA, LIBERIA - In the wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic, several prominent Liberians have called on the Government of Liberia (GoL)to provide subsidies to privately run hospitals and clinics operating in the country.

Speaking to journalists at the weekend, Mr. Charles Coffey, was among the several prominent Liberians who made call when they commended the ‘extraordinary’ efforts and services being rendered by the management and staff at the Oniyama Specialist and Teaching Hospital. The hospital is located in the Island Clinic Community on the Bushrod Island, outside Monrovia.

It is specialized in internal and general medicines, pediatrics, respiratory care, medical diagnostics, including full metabolic and blood gas, among others. Coffey, who is the President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), previously sought treatment at the private medical facility.

He told journalists that services at the hospital are faster as compared to other health facilities in the country. He attributed the situation to the assigning of health workers, including nurses and doctors to their respective areas of specialties.

Coffey added that the hospital’s environment is conducive and attractive for the provision of healthcare delivery to citizens regardless of status in the Liberian society.“When I was admitted at the Oniyama Specialist hospital, I saw that the environment was very conducive and clean. The care there is very perfect. When patient goes there, more attention is given to the patient. The hospital is very fast because everybody has his/her role to play.

The delay or long queues at other hospitals, including government institutions I normally visit when friends or journalists are not well, are not there at the Oniyama Specialist Hospital,” the PUL President intimated. He observed that most often nurses at many health facilities across the country are not friendly or flexible with their patients.

This, he added, has immensely helped to worsen the ailing health conditions of scores of patients admitted at those facilities. Coffey indicated that nurses and doctors have a pivotal role to play in counseling patients, and as such, they must be flexible and friendly at all times.

“Nurses and other health workers at the hospital have good human relations. The way a doctor or nurse will talk or speak with a patient has a psychological effect. When I was there (Oniyama hospital), I didn’t see nurses playing on phones”. Coffey recalled the sufficiency of drugs at the medical facility, adding that, “they would not prescribe drugs or send you out of the hospital to get drugs from somewhere”.

Against this backdrop, he urged government to provide subsidies to private-owned hospitals and clinics in Liberia. According to him, most of these private-run medical institutions are providing better or similar services as compare to other government-owned referral hospitals across the country, and as such, their efforts must be supported by government to enhance Liberia’s health system.

He maintained that though some public health facilities have trained doctors and nurses with the requisite expertise and services, the lack of adequate equipment, stable electricity and poor structures make these facilities inferior to other private-run hospitals or clinics. “The fees of some of these private health institutions are higher as compare to government institutions; but when subsidies are provided to these entities, they will be able to reduce the fees and address some of the challenges they are faced with”.

 Meanwhile, Mr. Joseph Gwah, the Director of Maintenance of the House of Representatives, is currently seeking treatment at the hospital. He told journalists that the proper treatment accorded his wife compelled him to seek treatment at the facility.

Gwah disclosed that the Oniyama Specialist and Teaching hospital has a tendency of always checking on patients that have been treated at the hospital. “They are always following up on their patients and this is unusual in Liberia. The doctors there will call and check on you in the morning and evening to make sure that you take your medicines; if you are not well, they will ask you to come back at the hospital. Many clinics, and even our renowned hospitals, cannot do that.”

Gwah averred that this new form of providing medical services to citizens and others make the hospital ‘exceptional’ from other medical facilities in Liberia. “Checking on patients is cardinal because when you treat the patient, the implementation of what you asked the patient to do is key to ensure that the medication works”.

“I ran a hospital before for ten years and so; I know how hospital smells like. But when you go to the Oniyama Specialist hospital, you will not know that you are in a hospital until you see the doctors or nurses-and they are very, very nice people. The hospital is real clean”, Madam Clara D. Mcintosh, wife of former Liberia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Toga Mcintosh,” stated.

She added: “I met a doctor from Cuba at the hospital. She makes you feel better before you can start telling her what’s happening to you. That’s how it supposed to be. The doctors there really make you feel at home.”

Patients admitted at the hospital are made to speak directly with doctors specialized in various disciplines from the United States of America via the internet. Madam Mcintosh, however, underscored the need for private hospitals and clinics that have adequate equipment and specialized doctors to be fully incorporated as referral hospitals.

“I am not looking down at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, but Oniyama has more than two oxygen machines, but JFK has only one. Government should come and assist because though these people are just starting a new hospital, but most of their equipment, you can’t find it at most of these hospitals around here”.

She continued: “My recommendation to government is to add Oniyama Specialist and Teaching Hospital to the list of referral hospitals because of their equipment and other services they are rendering.” Mr. Haji Sherman is an eminent Liberian businessman who is engaged into agriculture and real estate businesses. He and his wife Haja Corneh were the hospital’s first patients.

He termed as “perfect” the medical services accorded them during their stay at the facility. “I experienced one thing at Oniyama hospital that I have not experience in Liberia. When I left the hospital, they were the first hospital to call me as a patient who went there”.

“They did my entire test electronically. I believe that government should build up on their efforts and demand all other private hospitals to be up to standard instead of sending patients from one hospital to another to do their test.”

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