BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa â€“ The only government referral hospital in Grand Bassa is expected to shut down due to lack of financial support from the government.
The disclosure was made by the Liberian Government hospitalâ€™s medical director, Dr. Abraham Jawara, in an interview on Wednesday.
â€œThere are lots of challenges ranging from lack of fuel allotment, no essential drugs â€“ so we are constrained,â€ he said. â€œWe have been crediting here and there to the extent that we are not creditworthy anymore. So we are constrained [in running] the hospital at this point in time. We are not even able to move our ambulance.â€
He said all vehicles are â€œgrounded,â€ including that belonging to the on-call doctor because of the lack of fuel.
Jawara told journalists that hospital staff have now started telling patients to purchase their own drugs while asking family members of patients to transfer their relatives from the hospital to the private ArcelorMittal Hospital.
The medical director said he does not believe his hospital can properly serve the people of Grand Bassa and nearby counties due to lack of adequate support.
â€œThe ministry is aware of what is [happening] here. I think this is nationwide â€“ other hospitals around the country have been raising similar concerns, but the situation at the Liberian government hospital is totally bad,â€ he said.
Because the government hospital lacks many key necessities, patients are being shuttled between the hospital and the ArcelorMittal Hospital for services unavailable at the Liberian Government Hospital, including carrying out surgeries.
Jawara said commuting between the two hospitals requires fuel for vehicles but said that has been difficult to acquire.
â€œI am calling on all citizens to help in their weak ways to ensure that the hospital remains open because when the situation continues, we will have no option but to narrow our activities or shut down if possible,â€ he added.
â€œWe are managing everything we can in our weak ways but right now the hospital is in a serious state.â€
Jawara highlighted the effects the lack of fuel and essential drugs were having on the hospitalâ€™s operations: â€œIn the absence of fuel, you cannot run the ambulance. You cannot have light to do anything substantial. In the absence of essential drugs, you cannot perform [a] major surgery. In the absence of those, the hospital will only be a structure and carrying out essential work will be hampered.â€
He added that he inherited the hospital without any funds available for operations.
Jawara said he has been holding series of meetings with the superintendent of Grand Bassa, Janjay Baikpeh, and the chairman of the Grand Bassa Legislative Caucus, Rep. Thomas Goshua, and they promised to work along with the hospital staff to ensure that the hospital remains open.
He disclosed that after a meeting with Charles W. Brumskine, the veteran politician provided close to US$800 to secure a home for doctors. The doctorsâ€™ residence at the hospital had been gutted by fire in 2018. It was only recently that a two-bedroom apartment was renovated for the medical director.
Jawara said a few prominent Grand Bassa citizens have been expressing their desire to renovate the portion of the hospital that was burned in the fire; however, that has not happened yet.
The fire that damaged the doctorsâ€™ quarters was the second fire at the hospital in 2018 after another one occurred in March. At that time, the countyâ€™s authorities appealed to ArcelorMittal to use a portion of their hospital. The mining giant had renovated a portion of their hospital and turned it over to the Liberian Government Hospital to enhance its operations.
Staff transferred to the section of the ArcelorMittal Hospital given to the government frequently complain of the lack of vehicles to take them to work.
Family members of patients at the ArcelorMittal Hospital also note that the distance leaves them at risk of being targeted by criminals at night.
Featured photo by Sampson David