By Lanre Adesanya
Barely one year after commissioning of the Lagos State Cardiac and Renal Centre in the premises of Gbagada General Hospital, it is yet to deliver at full capacity as equipments are already dysfunctional.
This was scenario played out when the Health Services Committee of the Lagos State House of Assembly paid a visit to the Centre to ascertain how it has been functioning since its commissioning by the immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
When members of the committee, who were led by their Chairman, Hon. Segun Olulade, got to the Centre, they were amazed at the shocking news they received at the centre, that some of the equipment installed in the centre have never functioned for a day.
It was revealed that the Catheterization Laboratory (Cathlab) machine, which was said to have cost about N1.5 million dollars, is not functioning, catheterization laboratory is an examination room in a hospital or clinic with diagnostic imaging equipment used to visualize the arteries and chambers of the heart, and treat any abnormality found.
Some of the equipment that cost millions of naira and not functioning at the centre include a theatre unit with two theatre suites with laminar flow air-control; central sterilization and supply unit; four bed recovery room echo lab; stress lab, 24 dialysis machines, pharmacy, laboratories, ophthalmology clinic for eye screening, physiotherapy/rehabilitation unit.
This development has forced the consultants, professionals and doctors employed by the centre to leave as they have remained redundant, due to non-functional equipment.
Chief Executive Officer of the Centre, Prof. Babatunde Green, who made this disclosure to the committee, revealed that the one-year old building is already suffering from several defects, such as cracks in the walls, electrical defects, elevator defect, among other issues.
Prof. Green explained that Renescor Health, who is in charge of managing the centre, had been responsible for the maintenance of the building so as to ensure that it does not collapse as a result of the cracks in some parts of the walls.
Speaking further, the CEO clarified that the centre was handed over to Renescor Health by the Lagos State Government under a Public Private Partnership arrangement, adding that “since we came on board, we have not been able to do anything because a lot of the equipment that were installed are not functioning.
Prof. Green further revealed that the two elevators meant for moving patients from the ground floor to the operating theatre are not working. “Apart from the fact that the elevators are not working, they don’t have ventilation and this is dangerous to the patients because if you are taking a patient in that kind of lift, the patient could suffocate before you get to the theatre.
“Even in the operating rooms, there are no cooling systems. The machine in the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory which cost about 1.5 million dollars has never worked from day one that it was installed.
“We have tried everything humanly possible to ensure that things are put in order here; we have written several letters to the Ministry of Health and there have been no response or whatsoever. We have brought engineers to fix the minor problems, such as the electrical defects, but they are requesting for the drawing so as to make the work easier for them but the contractor has not cooperated in this regard at all.
“This place should by now be making good revenue for the state because it is the only one in Nigeria and people with heart and renal related ailments are supposed to be coming here for treatment. We have employed staff whom we are paying on monthly basis but nothing is happening here,” Green added.
Investigations also revealed that Deux Project Limited, a company belonging to one Tunji Olowalafe, executed the project and several other project within the state, among which are Maternal and Child Centres (MCCs) in Badagry, Epe, Lekki; Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences and Auditorium; Fence, Arcade and Driveway in Lekki.
Saddened by these revelations, Olulade assured that the Committee would do everything in its capacity to investigate the matter and bring it logical conclusion, adding with the amount of money spent on the Centre, “we can’t fold our arms and not look into why the equipment here are not working.
“I was on a television station few days ago and I was bragging about this place; telling the presenters that it is the only one in Nigeria and that it is the best in Africa, but I never knew that nothing is happening here.
“We are talking about lives here and we can’t joke with lives of Lagosians. Tax payers money was used in building that place and the money cannot be allowed to go down the drain just like that.
“But I can assure you that we will summon every stakeholder that is linked to this project, especially, Deux Project Limited to come and tell us why the major equipment in this place are not working. We must get to the root of this matter,” Olulade insisted.
Also, two members of the committee, who are from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), expressed disappointment, noting that despite the huge amount of money spent by the last administration on the centre, the place is yet to commence operation.
In its bid to get to the bottom of the matter, the Health Services Committee of the Assembly is said to have sat twice on the matter, with Ministries of Works, Health; Facility Management; Deux Project Limited and other stakeholders in attendance.