Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Federal Medical Center (FMC) Owerri, Dr. Jacy Achonu has debunked allegations that the medical center was not ready for COVID-19 outbreak, should cases begin to emerge in the state.
Dr. Achonu said that the hospital was very ready to face the challenges, adding that FMC was working with Governor Hope Uzodinma’s administration to ensure that facilities were put in place to face the COVID-19 pandemic.
Massmediang had gathered from sources that there were no hand gloves for doctors at FMC as a result of which a number of them abandoned their duty posts due to fear of getting infected with COVID-19 should patients start arriving.
One of the doctors who spoke on the basis of anonymity to Massmediang said that several Doctors at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) Owerri have abandoned their duty posts due to lack protective wears amidst the COVID 19 pandemic.
The source said doctors most of whom were working at the out-patient and other units of the hospital no longer show up in the hospital because they were afraid of contracting the coronavirus from patients since they don’t have protection. Only very few units at FMC such as the emergency unit are offering skeletal services.
A medical doctor who spoke to Massmediang on the basis of anonymity said he was no longer going to work because he didn’t have hand gloves, not to talk of complete protective gear to work with.
He said that since his own unit always had several patients coming on daily basis for other ailments, adding that without protection he could not guarantee his safety as he did not know who was already infected with the virus.
“I asked for ordinary hand gloves, I couldn’t get from the hospital and you’re asking me to work. You are talking about complete protective gear and ventilator. I am saying I couldn’t get hand gloves. That’s how bad it is at FMC. Go there now you won’t see many Doctors. They are safe in their homes with their families. No one is leaving the house until this is over.”
Another source said FMC was discharging patients and asking them to go home due to lack of facilities to tackle the impending COVID-19 challenge.
But in an exclusive interview, the PRO of FMC, Dr. Achonu debunked the allegations as ranting of people who didn’t wish the hospital well.
Dr. Achonu said she was surprised that now that FMC was working very hard to put facilities in place, some people were still interested in running the place down with false information, adding that there was no truth in all the allegations.
According her, “Everybody is working. We even held a meeting with some of the consultants and HODs in FMC. They were suggesting that only the emergency unit should work like in some other hospitals. The management told them that it is not only the Covid-19 that kills people; that people have different illnesses that can cause sudden death apart from this outbreak. So, on that note we should be coming to work to attend to people, to attend to our patients. Somebody might have accident, somebody might be a BP (Blood Pressure) patient, somebody might have developed renal failure, and you tell them you shut down. So everybody in FMC is coming to work.”
On the allegation that there were no hand gloves and other protective items at FMC, Dr. Achonu said: “A doctor told you that? Are you sure? Is the person our staff? If that person is FMC staff ask the person to show you his I.D. card. Come to FMC and assess what you see on ground. We have all those things. They (doctors) sign it every morning. People are here working and others are trying to discredit FMC. It is wrong now. Some people take joy in discrediting others and that is very bad.
“Even the state government in Imo says they are ready. It is FMC they’re looking up to. We work with them to ensure that the entire state is ready. So they (the sources that raised the allegations) didn’t tell you that we have specialists and consultants in FMC that are specialists in this area (disease prevention)?”
Dr. Achonu further assured residents of the state that FMC was ready to face the COVID-19 outbreak, though no case has been recorded in the state yet.
She also said health workers were getting ready to work round the clock to tackle the challenge, adding that management of FMC was taking necessary measures to get the hospital ready for suspected Covid-19 cases.
“In a bid to keep Imo State free and safe from the virus, the State Government in conjunction with F.M.C, Owerri as the only federal tertiary health institution in the State has taken swift measures and ready to admit any case or suspected case of COVID-19 into its fully equipped isolation centre with satisfied healthcare professionals on standby.
“It’s our desire that the State would remain Covid-19 free not withstanding the proactive facilities put in place.”
Dr. Achonu also called on members of the public to adhere to preventive measures in order to stay safe from the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is also advisable for members of the public to abide by the lay down preventive measures to enable us come out of the challenging period. Stay safe and remember to do the following: Wash your hands regularly with soap and apply hand sanitizer; Avoid close contact and social gathering; Better stay in indoors for now; Ensure good cough etiquette and spitting in the public; and Call our Covid-19 taskforce emergency number in case of any suspected case.”