The Itori General Hospital, Ogun State, has become an eyesore for residents of communities in the Ewekoro area. The abandoned hospital compound has now been converted into farmland, SODIQ OJUROUNGBE reports
The Itori general hospital was built by former Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel to provide quality healthcare to residents of the Ewekoro area and adjoining communities. The hospital which was strategically located along the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway was expected to serve more than 50 communities in the Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun state.
Years after, the hospital has become abandoned and dilapidated. PUNCH HealthWise investigation revealed that the hospital which is supposed to be a facility helping to care for patients with emergency health issues is in poor condition and lacks needed facilities and health workers.
When our correspondent visited the hospital on February 14, 2023, it was discovered that the hospital compound is now used in cultivating cassava, corn, and other vegetable fruits.
Apart from the signpost that indicates it was a general hospital, passersby can easily mistake the health facility for farmland because the whole compound is used for cultivating agricultural products.
The hospital looks deserted apart from the activities of a mechanic shop located under one of the trees inside the compound.
Three buildings were sighted inside the compound looking dilapidated with faded paint. The environment looks unkempt, and the buildings were in a state of disrepair.
It was also observed that the hospital has no gate. Bush has also taken over parts of the compound not used for farming.
Parts of the fence have been dilapidated and overgrown bushes dominate parts of the premises. Some of the pipes used for the toilets were broken, and the paint had faded away.
Investigations also revealed that there was no toilet at the hospital. When our correspondent asked the registrar for the toilet, he was directed to use the bush beside the building if he wants to ease himself.
PUNCH HealthWise also found out that the main building of the hospital is not just in a poor state but about to collapse. The building is now completely abandoned as the management now uses the two other structures to run the affairs of the hospital.
The poor state of the hospital is not just the poor state of the buildings and the environment. The beds sighted by our correspondent in one of the building was also an eyesore and not suitable for the sick as they could be a source of infection.
Shortage of health workers
Our correspondent spoke with the only nurse available during the visit. While pretending to be suffering from an ailment, the nurse simply identified as mama Keji said there was no doctor available. She asked our correspondent to check back in two days to see the doctor, claiming that the doctor only comes twice a week.
She said, “I can’t say this is what is wrong with you, but I believe if you can check back when the doctor is around, he will be able to tell you exactly what is wrong.”
Apart from mama Keji, PUNCH Healthwise also sighted a registrar and a Community Health Extension Worker, CHEW in the compound.
The gate man who admitted farming inside the compound also hinted that all the health workers at the hospital are not more than seven.
The security guard who declined to state his name for security reasons also revealed that patients have deserted the hospital due to a lack of facilities and healthcare workers.
Why I am using the compound for farming
The security man said he started farming in some parts of the premises because they were not used for any other purpose.
He revealed that there is no ambulance at the hospital, and despite being a general hospital, it does not attend to emergency cases.
He said, “The ambulance vehicles are located at the local hospital. The ambulance vehicles are supposed to be at the general hospital but they are at the local hospital. They have three there and it’s not in use.
“And the thing is, we don’t admit accident patients. We only attend to patients with minor illnesses and child delivery.
“The dilapidated hospital is affecting how they attend to patients. There are no beds to admit patients here. They only attend to patients that would be given medicine and the person will go away.”
Some of the residents who spoke with PUNCH HealthWise revealed that the lack of facilities and workers made many of them stop visiting the hospital.
The community leader of the Ishopin community in Itori, Kunle Adefarati alleged that patients had to bring candles if they come for delivery a night.
Adefarati who claimed a resident of the community was rushed to the hospital during labor had to buy candles because there was no power supply at the hospital.
He added, “The last time we took someone there for delivery, it was hell.
“Lack of proper management is also killing the hospital, look at the compound. It may interest you to know that patients buy candles for the hospital, meanwhile, the local government is just about five to seven minutes from the hospital.
“This is a major hospital here, but its condition is worrisome, government needs to do something.”
A shop owner around the hospital, Tolani Ayoola told our correspondent that when it rains, the hospital was always flooded.
She added, “There was no drainage, the security officer in the hospital now makes use of tree shade as an office since their duty post is dilapidated.
“I am close to the hospital due to my store, I came here every day, concerning the plantation in the hospital compound, it is owned by the operators of the hospital.
“Even though they don’t have a gate an outsider cannot come into the hospital to do such, if you enter the compound and start roaming about the security will challenge you so I think the hospital management has questions to answer about that.”
A student of D.S Adengbero Polytechnic, Itori, Kolawole Ogunpola, said emergency from the school was either taken to Ifo General Hospital or any private hospital around.
He said, “Since the day we rushed someone there after an accident and they told us they cannot attend to us, we have started taking patients to other places.
“If not because of the signpost, many people did not even know there is a hospital there. It is really in bad shape and the government needs to do something about it.”
Ogun govt promises interventions
The Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker, while admitting that the government was aware of the poor conditions of the hospital, told PUNCH HealthWise that the governor has approved that the building should be demolished and rebuilt.
Coker also attributed the non-availability of health workers at the hospital to the current state of the hospital, noting that “the environment is not conducive hence the first step to take is to build a new facility before we can employ more staff and improve on service delivery.”
She further said, “The government is aware of the State of the Hospital and there is approval from the governor for the building to be demolished and a new hospital to be rebuilt. His Excellency has made provision for this in the 2023 budget for the Hospitals Management Board.
“Itori has a dedicated Ambulance which is located at the Ambulance point outside the Road Safety Office along the Expressway. This is because we have looked at the Data for RTAs on that road and we were deliberate in our location of the Ambulance to ensure quick response and collaboration with the Road Safety team.”
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