By Brown Chimezie
Some patients in Owerri, Imo State, have lamented the poor state of the Federal Medical Center (FMC), Owerri, even as they called for urgent steps to to restore the elite hospital to its lost glory.
According to Adiechi Adiele, a stakeholder who spoke to the media, the usual consultation fee which patients pay before they see doctors for treatment has been increased from N500 to N1,800, an increment that he complained was on the high side: “The increment in consultation fee has pushed many patients to unbearable hardship. I am a retiree and, with my irregular income, I can no longer afford healthcare.
“Another problem we face is the recent replacement of paper cards with digital cards, but with poor network, it is difficult for some of us to assess our cards online, a development that sometimes makes patients to go home unsatisfied after going to the hospital for one treatment and another, following non-attendance by the doctors because of lack of network provider to provide access to patient’s data.
Another patient, Ejike Alisigwe, who said his father died at the emergency unit of the hospital recently, alleged that he lost his father as a result of lack of bed space at the emergency unit of the hospital.
According to him, his father was rushed to the said hospital over an undisclosed ailment but died because no bed space could be provided after over an hour.
Similarly, a patient who gave her name as Mrs. Ukachi hinted that automation of the data of the patients, which hitherto replaced the usual consultation cards for which patients used to see doctors, was not active, pointing out that, oftentimes, patients go home without meeting doctors following lack of service from network providers.
Reacting to these issues, one of the top management staff of the institution who spoke on the condition of anonymity attributed the lack of bed space at the emergency unit to numerous patients that come to the hospital on a daily basis, adding that the state government was making efforts to upgrade the state hospitals in order to relieve pressure on the FMC.