I read an article bearing the title “let’s be superlative in health service, too!” that appeared in the pages of the Sunday times of September 20, 2009.
While the writer was right to drum up the need for amelioration of services in the health sector in order to mirror the reputation of a nation of firsts that our country is now progressively developing, do allow me to set straight some facts that I think the writer blew out of proportion in what concerns King Faisal Hospital, Kigali.
I would like to make a round up state of the matters at the hospital for the benefit of everyone, clients and well-wishers.
King Faisal Hospital, Kigali’s vision in accordance with the Rwanda Government’s new orientation, is to become a Center of Excellence in Provision of Healthcare Services, Medical Education and Research in Africa.
Knowing the background of this hospital, there are numerous huddles that we have to overcome in order to achieve this objective.
It is indeed true that there are a few hitches here and there, just like it is the case in any establishment that is undergoing massive transformation.
It is also true that when you are a hospital of King Faisal Hospital, Kigali’s standing in a nation where people are progressively becoming aware that they should not settle for anything less than the very best, the pressure is too much and criticisms are a thing to be expected.
However, it should also be noted that a lot of improvements have been made in terms of service provision at the hospital, numerous improvements are still in the pipeline and the way ahead is very long but the commitment to achieve the hospital’s mission and vision is very strong.
While constructive criticism and suggestions (the hospital provides forms for clients to make comments about services which are reviewed on a monthly basis with the aim of making corrections) are quite welcome, some clients take it way overboard and criticize the hospital services way unfairly.
First and foremost, King Faisal Hospital, Kigali radiology department is one of the busiest, well equipped and staffed and most organized departments in the hospital. However, for the past two weeks there have been problems with the CT-Scan, an X-ray machine, which prompted the department to only attend to emergency cases.
Apart from this particular service, the rest were running smoothly. If anybody happened to visit the hospital during this period, this fact was clearly communicated to our clients by way of posters on all doors leading to the radiology department.
The problem has since been rectified and services are running as smooth as usual and delays have been minimized.
As part of the hospital’s transformation, a new Hospital Management System was purchased to replace the existing one that was not only outdated but also due to the fact that the South African based supplier had issued notice of his intention to phase the system out anyway.
The hospital management had to work around the clock not just to find another system but one that is modern and in tandem with the hospital’s mission and vision where provision of improved services using modern means is paramount.
The introduction of this system, just like new changes affect anywhere else, caused some turbulence in our service provision here and there especially during the installation period.
The billing and medical records departments (patient files retrieval) were hit the most. However, management embarked on intensive training programs for staff and although this wasn’t easy, improvements continue to be registered progressively as people get to understand the new system better.
To respond to frequent complaints from clients concerning long queues during bill clearance arising from the existence of few selling points, management decided to increase cashier desks to enable clients to pay from wherever it is they are receiving services.
This has not only spared the hospital’s clients the inconvenience of having to queue for long but also has minimized financial losses that used to be incurred by the hospital when some people would simply walk out of the hospital without settling their bills with the excuse that they cannot withstand the waiting.
In essence, the decentralization of the payment system has helped eradicate problems of service delivery and client satisfaction but has also solved problems that have been affecting the hospital in many ways for such a long time.
Due to absence of a law governing the destruction old medical records in the country, patient records have been piling up since King Faisal Hospital Faisal Hospital started operating and that was more than 15 years ago.
The management of patient files has become problematic over time and this was actually exacerbated by the change of the hospital system.
The hospital experienced some destabilization which obviously inconvenienced the hospital clients for sometime but management was quick to put in place emergency corrective measures that will pave way to a lasting solution that will also be contingent upon the creation of the law governing medical records.
The increase in the number of receptions was a decision taken by management to stifle financial losses that had become rampant and this measure has proven effective.
Soon, every specialty will have its own reception and this will not only help to maximize revenue collection but will also further ease file retrieval which has been an inconvenience and impediment to better service delivery at the hospital.
There have been varying complaints too, arising concerning the hospital’s patients catering services. Some grumbles concerned the variety of food served and the patients concerned.
The hospital uses the services of a full time qualified nutritionist who works closely with the catering department and oversees and advises the managers on the best food to serve to which patients.
For instance, food served to maternity ward is quite different from what is served in surgical ward, be it in volume, nutritional content or food material. Of recent, management has made it a policy for porridge and milk to be served to all new mothers in addition to different types of soup.
As for the amount served, the nutritionist does recommend to the catering unit the reasonable amount of food suitable for a convalescent. Water, juice and milk are also served in other wards in addition to a variety of foods that are served daily.
Understandably, a client should not be expected to understand the problems faced by the hospital as it struggles to offer better services. However, it’s pertinent to know that there are frantic efforts in place to ensure that King Faisal Hospital evolves into a world standard healthcare facility that will make every citizen proud.
With the goodwill and support the hospital enjoys from the Government and in particular, the President of the Republic, no one should be forgiven for doubting that this will be achieved.
Currently, the process for a multi million expansion and extension project of the hospital is in its final stages.
The shopping for the most sophisticated and state-of-the-art medical equipment on the market is in progress and it is expected that not later than early next year, no patient from Rwanda will have any necessity to be flown out of the country for diagnostic consultation.
King Faisal Hospital also boasts of highly qualified specialists with extensive experience.
This leaves management with no doubt that the hospital, despite the setbacks that keep manifesting themselves here and there, is on the right track towards achieving its vision and mission.
What is required now is focus, hard work, support and commitment from all stakeholders-and patience and understanding from the hospital’s clients.