I’m full of admiration for one of the latest, if not the newest, additions to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, a dedicated waiting area, the Atlantic Lounge, named after the First Atlantic Bank, which funded its construction.
Seeing it in person, the facility, featuring the bank’s attractive signature purple colour, looks as elegant and appealing as seen in media reports of its commissioning on Wednesday, July 21.
That was my impression when earlier this week curiosity led me to the hospital to check it out.
When I got there on Monday, July 26, workers were busy putting finishing touches to the walkway, but downstairs a dozen or so people, mostly women, were sitting on the sturdy-wooden benches.
As reported by the media, it has toilets, as well as an ATM or cash machine – naturally, being a bank sponsored structure.
A sign on the front says simply ‘The Atlantic Lounge’.
Inside, an inscription on the commemorative wall plaque states:
“THE ATLANTIC LOUNGE WAS BUILT
AND DONATED BY
FIRST ATLANTIC BANK
AND COMMISSIONED BY
H.E. MRS REBECCA NAA
FIRST LADY OF THE REPUBLIC
21ST JULY, 2021.”
However, I was disappointed with the plaque; not with its design, but with its wording.
To me, even if it hadn’t been an eye-catching structure, the purpose it was built to serve, and which it was doing when I visited, represents the good hearted nature of the person through whose initiative the nation’s premier hospital now has such a place.
Its importance lies in the fact that it has been built to serve not patients directly, but their relatives or friends; people who have accompanied others coming for medical care and whose well-being in hospitals is usually not a priority.
Yet, Mrs. Akufo-Addo evidently saw their plight as a troubling issue.
More importantly, she didn’t leave it at just a passing idea in her mind.
As she explained at the opening ceremony, in May, 2019, she identified the need when she was at Korle-Bu to commission another of her health care initiatives, the Rebecca Akufo-Addo Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.
“I noticed many visitors sitting under trees and other uncomfortable places. It was quite obvious to me that Korle-Bu needed a decent waiting area for the emergency wards, to provide comfort, safety, peace of mind and protection against adverse weather conditions.”
She expressed her concern and wish to find a solution to Dr Bernard Okoe-Boye, the then Board Chairperson.
She and Dr Okoe-Boye approached some corporate institutions, as well as the First Atlantic Bank, which, to their credit, readily accepted to help.
Thus, she added: “Today, we have a beautiful place to comfortably seat 150 people.” She commended the bank, describing the Lounge as “the human face of your business”.
My problem with the plaque is that its inscription doesn’t tell, or even hint at, a most important part of the story: the fact that Mrs. Akufo-Addo initiated the idea of what has come into being as the Atlantic Lounge and, in my view, it’s not fair to her.
It’s also misleading.
For the record, despite my criticism, I do like the name ‘Atlantic Lounge’.
It has a certain cachet or prestige.
But merely stating that the bank built and donated the Lounge and she commissioned it, obviously leaves out the critical aspect, that the thought that germinated into a structure came from Rebecca Akufo-Addo.
Therefore, that information should have been indicated on the plaque.
In my opinion, credit should always be given where it is due, especially for such patriotic or selfless endeavours.
Unfortunately, this country has a bad habit of not acknowledging originators of ideas, initiatives and accomplishments.
It shouldn’t be taken for granted that even at the present time, everybody knows that the initiative came from the First Lady.
What about in future as the building’s plaque itself, perhaps unintentionally, is silent on its origin?
Indeed, the plaque gives the wrong impression, that out of the blue the First Atlantic decided to build and donate to Korle-Bu a waiting area for patients’ attendants, and invited the First Lady to come and commission it.
So, to me the bank needs to change the present plaque to one that has a more accurate inscription, a plaque that states that the idea came from Mrs. Akufo-Addo and the bank was happy to work with her to make it a reality.
Significantly, although it was a spur of the moment idea during a function, she didn’t put it in her ‘to do later’ file.
She immediately swung into action, exploring how she could achieve the objective.
Anybody who has had the stress of accompanying somebody to a hospital, will appreciate the importance of a dedicated waiting area such as the Atlantic Lounge.
If only there were more of them!
Hopefully, the Atlantic Bank will consider building other waiting areas in other hospitals; or, better still, other financial institutions will follow the example.
Interesting that the Atlantic Lounge has been commissioned at this point in time, in view of the recent furore about state allowances for First Ladies and Second Ladies.
Critics argue that they don’t deserve any, because they have no assigned duties in the national Constitution.
As the matter is in court, there isn’t much one can say about it now.
Still, obviously the Atlantic Lounge didn’t spring up overnight in July, 2021 just to prove that Mrs. Akufo-Addo is working for Ghana, complementing her husband’s vision.
The beauty of the Atlantic Lounge project lies in the fact that Mrs. Akufo-Addo saw a gap and took action, regardless of the fact that she herself would not get any personal benefit.
That is what I call a compassionate heart; and she deserves to have her role permanently acknowledged on that commemorative wall plaque.
So, First Atlantic Bank, well done; but please amend your plaque’s inscription ASAP in the name of fairness – and accuracy.