By MARTIN NYIRENDA -
TODAY the image of Ndola Teaching Hospital (NTH) is brimming with a sense of health care excellence.
The health facility, which has a capacity of more than 800 beds and more than 90 baby cots, has embraced a strategy to foster improved health care services
NTH, through its vision to better serve the patients and others seeking health care services, aims at improving and maintaining what was good of the existing health care system, while amplifying the agenda of focusing on the areas that needed improvement.
And good measure too, this is so because the health facility is the second largest health institution in Zambia. It is a referral centre for the northern part of the country — serving a population of more than 500, 000 in Ndola district alone.
Since measures were introduced by the new management, the hospital has continued to receive dozens of people seeking high-quality health care that helps to maintain or restore their health and ability to function.
Last time I engaged NTH Senior Medical Superintendent, Alex Makupe in an interview to find out about his vision to improve the health facility; he raised pertinent issues concerning his plans to change the negative image of the hospital.
No doubt, this is where the positive story of the health facility begins.
Dr Makupe, who is referred to as a soldier or simply commando by many at the facility because of his positive attitude to work, mirrors a very simple and humble man with massive exposure and knowledge.
He was suspected to have been deployed from the military to correct health challenges besetting the health facility in as far as improving delivery efficient services to the public members.
This was because he has aggressively embraced the agenda to improve the state of the health facility and ensuring that all players accounted for their roles in serving members of the public.
I have regularly spotted Dr Makupe, who is a Consultant General Surgeon, on the road side, picking up casualties along Kitwe/Ndola road even as late as midnight using his official vehicle.
Call him for an accident, he will be there.
This author spent several days surveying services at the hospital and a number of bedsiders and patients spoken to testified that the director — Mr Makupe — starts his work and hospital ward rounds as early as 06.30 hours every morning accompanied by his staff.
This, according to sources said, was a positive experience they like more than anything else and always missed his absence when he is out of station.
With a strong team supporting him, the medical expert is upbeat to continue improving services offered at the hospital as results have already vindicated his dream for a positive health facility in the second largest hospital in the country.
“His way of doing things is different from what we are used to see,” commented Morgan Chishala, who was a patient by time of going to print.
Because of his commitment, NTH now has an emergency system consisting of a ward for resuscitating patients in emergency conditions, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and high dependency units. This is happening now to improve outcomes for the people.
The old ugly image of NTH has come to pass with the unkempt impression that greeted every other visitor at the facility compounded as poor health service delivery have now been reduced
to a heap of history.
Today the story of NTH is rather different for the benefit of visitors to the health facility, something which qualifies Government’s agenda to foster efficient service delivery.
During my underground survey of the hospital, I discovered that walls have received fresh coats of paint in the wards, floors are mopped free from litter, and work culture has improved among the staff, including other support workers.
The surrounding is kept neat, while there were consistent improvements taking place at the facility to make it more habitable for patients and their relatives on their bed sides.
Congestion in the wards have been reduced significantly after erection of the shelter where relatives of patients wait while their relatives are being attended to by medical staffs making rounds in the wards.
You should have been there to witness the change in institutional activities.
The newly constructed shelter has helped relatives escorting their patients coming as far as Kasama and other far flung parts of the country, offering opportunity for relatives watch linen or clothes as they wait for theirs to be attended to.
Keith Ngosa, who accompanied a relative transported in an ambulance to access specialised medical from NTH, was very grateful with the quality health care service that the facility offered to their relative.
“I was not certain of what to expect after we brought our relative but it happened that the hospital had shelters for relatives accompanying their sick patients, which was not the case before because people would be forced to find alternative accommodation due to limited bedspace,” Mr Ngosa explains, after visiting his relative on the second floor side ward.
As it should be, regular cleaning in wards has become a custom.
Faith Shanboko, a resident of Baluba location, off the Ndola/Kitwe dual carriage way, who escorted his sister suffering from some internal organ complication, attests to the fact that service delivery at NTH has significantly improved and that this was an added positive to quick recovery of patients.
“The situation has improved and this helps quick recovery of patients unlike when they are kept in filthy conditions like was the case before. It is even more interesting that the senior most person at the health facility was able to related with workers on the ground like cleaners, encouraging them to ensure that the place remained conducive.”
Mrs Shamboko, who was waiting to get feed-back at the Casualty section of the facility, was greeted by Dr Makupe, who was apparently making his usual rounds.
While there, the ‘commando’ turned to one of the cleaners instructing her to ask the person in charge of cleaning up the male lavatories to do exactly his job. This was after Dr Makupe personally inspected the lavatories.
The Casualty section is spotless clean unlike it was before punctuated with a heavy mass of sometimes buzzing-green flies hovering in the faces of visitors waiting to register themselves or their ill relations.
An insider, a worker at the hospital, confided in me that drastic changes have taken place since Dr Makupe was introduced as leader of the facility.
As an observer, it was evident that many efforts have been directed to restore the positive image of the facility.
The mental block, housing psychiatric patients was undergoing a face lift, with Government building a modern facility expected to be opened next year. This simply qualifies the statement that Government was making strides to take quality health care services loser to the people.
For the hospital hosting four training institutions namely Ndola Schools of General Nursing, Midwifery and Theatre Nursing, Ndola College of Biomedical Sciences, Community Health Assistants Training School, and the Copperbelt University School of Medicine, it is health news the facility has embraced Government’s agenda to bring quality health services closer to the people.
The improvements scored at the hospital are a test measure of quality for health facilities in the district and other parts of the country.
NTH is fighting the condition where patients fail to receive necessary health care and invariably end up suffering needless complications that adds to exorbitant costs, which reduces national productivity.
The NTH results are showing positive results with the improved quality image of the institution taking shape, though other hurdles may exist in one way or the other.
Out of it all, NTH has scored a plus compared to what was the image of the facility where services were pathetically offered to patients.
The hospital management should remain in the progressive game of ensuring improved quality service was delivered to visitors thronging the health facility.