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How we transformed from medical center to teaching hospital – Dr Majekodunmi

Federal Medical Centre, Ido, was recently upgraded to a Federal Teaching Hospital by the federal government, what informed the new status and what implication would it have on the health needs of the people?
I pioneered the psychiatric department of the hospital under my former boss, Dr (Mrs). Ololade Ojo, and with her support, I was able to take the department to an enviable height that earned us recognition by the West African Medical College as one of the best training psychiatric centres in Nigeria. I moved from there to be the Head of Clinical Services of the hospital, the position I occupied for two years. During my tenure. I brought a paradigm shift to that office. I had to sit in as acting medical director when my boss completed her second term. In September 2012, I was made the substantive CMD. Since then there have been struggle to turn this hospital to a teaching hospital. But God answered us with the mighty weight and philanthropic gesture of Aare Afe Babalola, when he expended nothing less than N2billion in putting the infrastructure in place according to the dictate of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and Nigeria University Commission (NUC).
What specific things did you use the money to procure to prepare the hospital for its present status?
With the money, we now have clinical hostels that you would probably not find in any teaching hospital in this country because each room is en suite for all the medical students. We also have teaching laboratories fully equipped for the training of these students. We are able to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Afe Babalola University (ABUAD) which was carried out by the Hon. Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu.
The hospital is now in the realm of those hospitals where medical students undergo clinical training.
When did the idea of upgrading the hospital start?
I am only fortunate to be the pioneer Medical Director of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido-Ekiti. But the whole idea emanated from Aare Afe Babalola himself. He told us that from his experience outside the country, we have universities that run medical schools but never had teaching hospital of their own, because they could just reach out to any standard hospital around and affiliate. Aare cited many examples of where such is done in Europe and America. So, he brought the request to my predecessor. Although there was initial error in the sense that my former boss took the whole matter on her own shoulder, thinking she could grant the request. But eventually, the Ministry of Health got to know about it and nullified everything. So, it was only last year that we restarted the process through the normal channel. According to the former Health Minister, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, only the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria could upgrade a hospital to a teaching status. And without being in a teaching status, it cannot train medical students. The minister advised that we should apply to Mr. President, through his office, telling him the facilities that we have on ground and why we think we could do it. He later said he would send the ministry’s team to access the facilities before he puts forward the recommendation to Mr President. And that was exactly what happened.
You are building on what your predecessor started.
 The renaissance started with my predecessor. We shared common vision and she opened the floodgate of this hospital to a number of consultants during her eight- year tenure.
How many consultants were there in the hospital before you took over?
We had up to 50 consultants then. Although, the number was not fixed because as some of them were coming in, others were relocating to other institutions within and outside the country. It was during that time that we started the idea of changing the hospital to the status of a teaching hospital. And that is why I pioneered the training of clinical students in this hospital.
Before now we had departments that were given partial accreditation. When I came on board, I ensured that we had full accreditation for some of these departments. Apart from that, we had new departments like the Ear, Noise and Throat Departments. We also have new Pathology Department, that is, the Chemical and Micro Biology, they are all into investigation. What we concern ourselves with is the strengthening of the already laid down structures in the hospital.
What would you say are the major reforms you brought to the hospital since you assumed office?
They are many. In the last two years that I came on board which are fundamental to any institution like ours, the first thing I did was to ensure that all the internally generated revenue are paid into the bank, so that, it would not be business as usual. One thing that can easily frustrate the functioning of this institution is lack of finance, more so as a result of the austerity measures here and there. So, we fought that battle and won. Although, it is not a new thing because other institutions do it but we are happy that it is also entrenched in our system here. I am also happy that my people realize that I meant well for them by introducing such measures. Even as CMD, if I have to spend a dime, I have to raise a voucher for that purpose and not just draw any money from any cashier. That was what was in operation before I took over the mantle of leadership. We also constituted some bodies that were never in existence before, like Procurement Committee. Although, it existed in law but not in practice before I came. This is important so that the CMD or anybody would not just appoint anybody based on closeness or friendship to be buying all the items needed in the hospital. The law is clear on who should head the committee and there are processes. Then I also brought in the Drug Revolving Fund which was never in existence before. The Head of Clinical Services is to head the body and the Chief Pharmacist. The ServiCom now is in operation.
Above all, we lay emphasis on discipline and hard work since we are providing the necessary infrastructure. The reforms are directed towards improving clinical services and welfare of workers too.
 With the upgrading is your management considering possibilities of jerking up charges?
We will be shooting ourselves in the legs if we decide to increase our charges. In an hospital like this that has just been upgraded to the status of teaching hospital, what we need most now is the number of patients patronizing us. Because, we cannot afford a teaching hospital that is empty. Also, considering the level of poverty in this part of the country, doing so might be counter -productive. If you increase their charges beyond their reach, they naturally stay away. It is just normal. They rather wait until they see somebody who will assist them or they die. So, it is better to bring the charges down to the barest minimum. But, what we are planning to do here is this, the issue of austerity in Nigeria is not a new thing. Some people are saying that it is just being pronounced officially. Our overhead is so negligence almost non existent. I mean what is being given to us from the federal government to run the hospital per year. We receive an average of N4million per month which is not even enough to buy diesel to power our generating sets. As I am talking we are still ruining on generators and we must ensure that this place runs like a hospital. If you are coming to the hospital at night and everywhere is dark you will probably turn back. We are encouraging more people to come. We are also strengthening our outreach programmes to the nooks and crannies of the state and beyond so that people can feel the kind of services we render.
You said you received N4m monthly and which you also said is not enough to buy diesel to run your generating sets. What are you doing to improve your IGR?
 We established ventures which is self sustaining. It is going to be funded by the hospital and it would make money for the hospital. It has been registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC ). We intend to have among other things car wash business, poultry, farming, water plants and so on.
How long did it take you to attain this status of a teaching hospital?
It took us almost a year to complete the process. All these were made possible because Aare Afe was a tenacious person. And one big lesson learnt from Aare is that he did not believe in impossibility. Aare Afe is a philanthropic of high repute who will commit any amount to a course he believes in. All these he did for the betterment of humanity. For somebody to commit as much as N2billion in a project, even if somebody is rich, I don’t know how many people would want to do that, knowing fully well that all the facilities would not be his own after ten years.
What does he stand to gain, did the MoU state anything about the sharing formular?
I don’t know whether the MoU states anything about sharing formular. It only says that after ten years Aare ceases to make use of the place. Aare was optimistic that before the expiration of the agreement, he would have put up his own teaching hospital. In other words, it is like providing facilities for government for a period of ten years. Aare uses his name, his goodwill to remove all impediments along the way.

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