POSSIBLE MODELS OF UCH MANAGEMENT
There are several methods the community can adopt to revive the hospital. I will only identify and briefly discuss three. I have written some articles on this issue in the past.
1. The first method is for the hospital to remain the “property” of Akah people and run by Akah people. Being that we have accepted that the hospital is a failing institution, there is no way using the existing structures and methods can revive the hospital. There has to be extensive surgical reorganization of the board and management of the hospital.
2. The second option is to totally transfer it to the Imo state government. I believe this is a viable option in view of our present situation. I suggest in pursing this option, we have to negotiate for appropriate “local content” if possible. That is, ensuring that our people who are qualified remain employed in the hospital.
The possible benefits of a government take-over are the possibility of posting junior doctors and other professionals to the hospital as part of their training. The immense benefits of such possibility are unquantifiable. These professionals will be trained by visiting or resident senior professionals who will also be working in the hospital.
The disadvantage is that the community may lose any reasonable input in the running of the hospital. It may also require painstaking negotiation to convince the government to take over the hospital.
3. The third option is to invite an independent health management organization that will reorganize and manage the hospital professionally and pay the Akah people an agreed annual fee.
This is another viable option. Regrettably, our people play local politics with things as critical as health care and education to the detriment of the people. I am convinced that Umuaka has many talented and honest young men and women that can turn that hospital around if given the opportunity. I am equally convinced that there are organised groups in Umuaka that can take that hospital to an enviable height if given the opportunity.
Our brother Mr. Jonathan Iherobiem (Loko) once suggested that he be given the hospital to run at a fee of N2,000,000.00 per year for 30 years. This goes to show the present worth of the hospital.
These recommendations are based on the assumption that the community would like to revive and manage the hospital, as opposed to handing it over to the Imo state government or independent managers.
1. The Akah community has to organize itself first. It is by so doing that further actions will be credible and acceptable.
2. We should take an urgent step to establish a credible board of directors that will supervise the affairs of the hospital. Such a body must have the mandate of, and command the respect of the whole Akah people.
This supervisory board must have professionals and lay people. It has to be men and women of integrity selected from the original ten villages. Not those that will come and chop, rather those that will come and work.
The board should draw up a strategic plan for the hospital and set reasonable targets for the hospital management.
3. A robust mechanism has to be put in place by the board within a reasonable time to appoint a Chief Medical Director who will be the clinical and administrative head for the day to day running of the hospital. The person so appointed must be given a free had to run the hospital and be well remunerated. A bonus or target specific scheme could form part of the remuneration.
4. The community has to appoint competent and qualified consultants to the hospital. With appropriate arrangement, the consultants may not be remunerated per se. I do not mean clinical consultants, rather our sons and daughters who may be willing to advise the board on relevant technical aspects based on their experience.
5. A mechanism for informing the people on the state of affairs of the hospital (and other communal assets) has to be developed. This will include the production and publication of audited yearly accounts.
6. All necessary steps have to be taken to mobilize all the necessary human and material resources to revive the hospital. This will include liaising with the relevant government agencies or contacts to attract patronage to the hospital.
7. There has to be a backwards integration policy whereby a dedicated percentage of any net profit will be reinvested in the development of the hospital. The alternative is to run it on not-for-profit basis whereby any net profit is totally reinvested in the hospital development.