Korle Bu’s path to fast recovery — My walk revelation

BY: Vicky Wireko

On a self-imposed fact-finding walk through the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) last Tuesday, I came out convinced that Ghana’s premier teaching hospital is fast on a path to full recovery.

The stranger in Ghana may ask, “Was KBTH ever sick?” Yes, it was at some stage. The hospital went through some bad patches over the years with some critical departments almost in a state of comatose.

Buildings were left dilapidated. Furniture in some clinics looked old and worn out. Patients had to constantly rely on third-party services like x-rays, scans, laboratory and pharmacy and untidy environment where relatives made open spaces their rest places, sometimes with their mats.

There were no decent waiting areas for out-patients or visitors, no decent open spaces with benches and no decent snack bars or shops on site. In effect, the hospital lacked the attraction and encouragement that gave hope.

Thanks to some dedicated medical personnel and administrators as well as corporate and individual benevolence, KBTH is gradually on its feet as my two-hour walk-through confirmed.

Complaints desk

Today at KBTH, almost all the outpatient departments I visited had their unique public complaints booth or desk manned by a fully trained person whose job is to assist patients and visitors.

The idea I gathered was not only to assist but also to receive complaints to help monitor staff performance.

I tested it at Accidents and Emergencies Unit (A&E) as well as the Department of Medicals and Therapeutics (popularly known as Medicals).

While at the complaints desk at the Department of Medicals, two things struck me. Beautifully listed are the services and clinics and modes of payment.

Appointment system

But also displayed is a phone number to call if one needed to see a doctor at their own convenience.

I learnt for the first time that at some departments, private medical services are available at the hospital on appointment basis for anyone who needs medical attention and is ready to pay extra to receive expedited service known as “Intra-mural”.

So why is the hospital not hammering on this type of appointment system? Because, really, that is what many more patients paying consultation fees at private clinics are seeking for - convenience and quality consultation time for specialist care.

Countless times, people refer to KBTH as the last destination for various medical referrals because of the variety of specialists and equipment.

As I walked away from the department, I admired the transformed state of the renovated structure, the dialysis centre, and the transformed grounds with benches for relaxation.

Accidents & Emergencies

Many more positive impressions unfolded on my fact-finding walkabout. My encounter at A&E was memorable as well. How could one overlook the fast and efficient manner two ambulance cases were attended to while there?

Nurses are stationed right at the entrance of the A&E to receive emergency cases and rush them to triage section for necessary attendance before doctors come in.

One of the ambulances that came in was from Afigya Kwabre North Constituency with a little child accompanied by a relative. This child accidentally had his fingers trapped inside louvre blades at home in Wa and got one of the fingers completely severed. He was rushed to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi where he was stabilised and then referred to KBTH for further care.

KBTH has indeed bounced back on the road to recover as I recollected my experience decades ago as a young girl, when I was rushed to the same A&E after a road-traffic accident.

Electronic system

The paperless system in operation is commendable as well. I discovered that the days when one attended any of the clinics and had to go backward and forward with photocopying of one’s NHIS and or hospital cards, pay for service before queuing to see a doctor are now shortened.

The much talked about paperless system is working. Today, at KBTH, patient’s tests and other medical requests are all linked electronically to a patient’s hospital card and a registered patient ID.

So if a patient needs x-ray, or lab tests, the minute the doctor makes that request, it goes directly to the “service provider”.

Similarly, the x-ray or lab result is also fed directly to the doctor awaiting the patient’s next appointment.

One cannot close the chapter on KBTH’s road to recovery without commending the smart nurses’ uniforms with their names and departments visibly embossed. As if to say, if you are not happy with a nurse, just note the name and department and report at the complaint desk. Korle Bu Teaching Hospital has resuscitated like never before. My verdict? Just try it.