•Kaduna Catholic hospital rendering humanitarian services seeks support from govt, public
Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Saint Gerard’s Catholic Hospital, Kaduna became a household name 60 years ago. When it was founded, the hospital’s initial mission was to render humanitarian services to patients.
The Catholic hospital celebrated its Diamond Jubilee between May18 and May 21 in Kaduna. Since its establishment, it was gathered that the hospital has remained a household name in Kaduna and its environs. The hospital is known to accept and treat accident victims without demanding a police report, and its bills are not exorbitant. Many have also wondered how the hospital has been coping since the donor agencies helping the facility were no longer forthcoming in supplying free drugs and other medical equipment.
The increase in population, frequency of accidents, the development of strange ailments and the bad economy, the reporter gathered, have jacked up the hospital’s charges. But many of the patients have been evading payments after treatment. Some even abscond from hospital beds before they are discharged.
Administrator of the hospital, Reverend Sister Beatrice Danladi regretted that such challenges, among others, have made the facility unable to continue rendering completely free and humanitarian services to patients. She denied, however, that the hospital had ever discriminated against any patient.
Archbishop of Kaduna Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Mathew Man-Oso Ndagoso, who by his office is the proprietor of the hospital, noted that the tenets upon which St. Gerard’s Hospital was established must be committed to.
He stressed that the hospital was established for humanitarian purposes, and enjoined the managers of the facility to maintain that status quo.
He made the charge in his homily during a service to commemorate the anniversary of the hospital. He also lauded the efforts of those who work round the clock to ensure that the hospital has kept on running.
“In the last 60 years, St. Gerard’s Hospital has touched so many lives. We thank God for giving those who have the foresight to establish the hospital for the purpose of helping humanity,” he said.
The Archbishop acknowledged, however, that the hospital was no longer getting funds from donors as the situation was in the past, a phenomenon that had totally changed the situation in the hospital.
“The situation has changed, and that is the more reasons why people’s mentality must also change to meet the reality on ground that the hospital is running on internal donations.
“The hospital in the last 60 years has done very well. But in human existence, there is always the need to improve”, he urged.
In his goodwill messages, the Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani said that in the last 60 years the hospital has continued to be a community-based institution focusing on people’s health.
“We must continue to strive for the common good of the society we found ourselves in. St. Gerard’s Hospital, along with its management, made sure that those living in Kaduna State and beyond have access to health care, and you have sustain such gestures as your main priority despite increasingly high cost of drugs and medical equipment.
“We urge you not to relent in this kind of efforts. May Almighty God never forget your labour of love,” the Senator prayed.
He further explained that the hospital had established an enviable reputation as a medical centre where victims of accidents could be taken to for urgent attention and for medications, without the hindrances of exorbitant initial financial deposits.
However, the authorities of the facility have raised the alarm over occasional disappearances of patients from their hospital beds after recovering from ailments without settling the medical bills. This has been the trend since the hospital was established 60 years ago, the reporter learnt.
Consequently, the hospital has incurred huge financial losses over the years, running to over N15 million. The amount includes debts owed by some organisations.
Besides this, the reporter gathered, the Kaduna State government currently owes the hospital a princely N12.1million, which came about following the treatment of victims of the 2011 post- election violence as well as victims of the derailed train in Kakau area of Kaduna. The amount also includes part of the medical bills of those that were attacked at a police station in Kujama and those of the children electrocuted in Kakuri.
The hospital administrator noted: “As a matter of fact, the hospital is being faced with huge utility bills, outstanding medical bills owed by some patients. These are the ones who, after treatment, end up absconding to the detriment of the hospital. We also have inadequate support from donor agencies.
“We want to sincerely express our gratitude to the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai for the payment of N8 million from the N15, 649, 861 owed by the state government for the treatment of victims of the 2011 post election crisis, the derailed train accident in Kakau, the police station attack in Kujama and electrocuted children in Kakuri. We really appreciate it and at the same time looking forward to getting the complete payment.
“Also, following the visit of the governor to the fire and accident victims, he gave a directive that we should treat them and send their medical bills to him. The bills amounted to N4,530.918 million in 2016/2017. The bill has been sent but there has been no positive response till date. In total, Kaduna State government owes the hospital N12, 180,779 million.
“But besides that, we are appealing to the state government to include us in its subvention plan because we are not getting anything from the government, and we have never rejected victims from the government for treatment whenever the need arises.
“Notwithstanding, the challenges ahead are very massive in nature, yet we are committed to becoming the foremost health care provider of choice in Nigeria. We would have loved to offer inexpensive services, but due to the economic situation of the country, we have no means of generating adequate funds for easy implementation of our goals and sustenance of skilled staff.
“Three-score years in the life of any institution is a significant milestone. For the past 60 years, the hospital has revived countless number of people from different ailments. Some pertinent questions that crop up here are, ‘what is the religion of sickness? What is the tribe of diseases? Is it only the poor that are afflicted?’ Here in St. Gerard’s Hospital, we respect the sacredness of life and attend to all without segregation. As long as you are a human being, we treat and allow God to heal.
The chairman of the occasion and Vice-Chancellor of Taraba State University, Professor Vincent Ado Tenebe called on the people of Kaduna State to continue to contribute to the growth of Saint Gerard’s Catholic Hospital to help modernise, modify and service the hospital to enable it catch up with modern technology in medicine and compete internationally in terms of standard.
According to Tenebe, the call for the public to help the hospital by financing or donating free drugs became imperative. He recalled that Saint Gerard’s Hospital had remained the only medical facility in Kaduna and throughout the northern states accepting accident victims, gunshot victims, victims of electrocution and other health related issues as passed on the floor of the Senate.