Itojo hospital’s sorry state sparks outrage

Wednesday January 16 2019

Helpless. An elderly man lies on a bench at the

Helpless. An elderly man lies on a bench at the outpatients department of Itojo hospital in Ntungamo District in 2017. PHOTO BY PEREZ RUMANZI 

By PEREZ RUMANZI

Lack of power, water, breakdown of ambulances and alleged mismanagement have paralysed operations at Itojo hospital.

According to the hospital management committee report addressed to the chief administrative officer, the electricity bills have accumulated to Shs212 million, water was cut off due to non-payment while the hospital vehicles including two ambulances have been grounded since November last year.

The management committee’s report dated November 20, 2018 seen by Daily Monitor indicates that the crisis is partly as a result of mismanagement by the acting Medical Superintendent, Dr Oliver Asiimwe.

She is accused of impunity and insubordination.
“The existing hospital structures and systems have been neglected. The medical superintendent has refused or neglected to work with other junior officers and staff. This is purely maladministration and incompetence,” the report reads in part.

Claims
Mr Denis Muhumuza, a member of the committee and councillor for Itojo Sub-county, claims Dr Asiimwe has also ignored several recommendations of the committee, directives from the permanent secretary and has continuously absented herself from the hospital avoiding attending to issues of staff.

They say she has refused to pay four medical doctors consolidated allowances of Shs500,000 per month passed by the district council resolution to motivate them.
“I don’t know whether it is because she has no experience or its impunity because she knows some big people that she is acting in such a way but our hospital has been grossly mismanaged since she came in and all our efforts as the hospital management committee have failed to bear fruits,” Mr Muhumuza says, adding: We have caused various meetings at the hospital including one with the district health officer but not a single resolution has been implemented by her. She wants to manage the management committee as well.”

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However, Dr Asiimwe says she inherited some of the challenges such as huge electricity and water bills but that others are exaggerated by politicians who are against her management for reasons she cannot understand.
“There are several challenges here but there are also so many rumours and us who are not politicians, we fail to understand why people are against us,” Dr Asiimwe says.

Dismissing claims
She adds: “When I came here in August, I found serious challenges, debts and huge bills. We had challenges with electricity. We do not have pit-latrines and our toilet system is not working properly. I think the problems here are not for us or for Itojo only; they are for the whole of this community.”

She denies having stopped the top-up allowances for the senior medical officers.
The chief administrative officer, Mr Kweyamba Ruhemba, could not be reached for a comment on the matter because he is on leave.

The district health officer, Dr Richard Bakamuturaki, says there is friction within the management and that the facility has had challenges of power and water bills for a long time.
“These people (Itojo hospital management) are behaving like children; they can’t sit and resolve their personal issues. They want everything to end in a meeting where I and the CAO preside over. They need to manage the hospital themselves. There have been outstanding challenges such as bills which the hospital budget cannot accommodate and as the district we are trying to see how they can be solved,” Dr Bakamuturaki says.

“The issue of electricity is older than any of the people there now; renovations, sewerage and water management and many other challenges. We hope we shall find a way and resolve them so that staff do not find excuse not to perform,” he adds.

The LC5 chairman, Mr Denis Singahache, also acknowledges there are challenges at the hospital.
“There are four senior medical officers at the hospital and not anyone of them wants to be medical superintendent. There was Dr Nabasa who was appointed but he was almost running mad and he resigned, he has refused to go back, all of them have acted in the same position and resigned. I now blame the hospital committee for mistreating Dr Oliver, these people (doctors) are scarce. They need to be aided to perform not to be barked at. She has challenges but we need to address them considering her experience,” Mr Singahache says.

The hospital has 113 staff including non-medical staff, admits an average of 400 inpatients every month and other more than 1,000 outpatients.

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