As the nation-wide strike by medical doctors continues, the Rivers State Government has said it has engaged eight private hospitals, including the Professor Kelsey Harrison Hospital, to give free medical care to patients who registered under the Free Medical Care Programme of the state.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker, disclosed this yesterday at Government House, Port Harcourt, the state capital.
He said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the state government with the private hospitals was a crisis management strategy to alleviate and ameliorate the effects of the nationwide industrial action on the people
According to him, “The eight private hospitals involved in the (MoU) are Riverside Hospital, Harbour Road, Port Harcourt; Princess Medical Centre, Trans-Amadi, Prime medical Consultants, Rumuogba; Sonabel Medical Centre, Orazi; Sterling Specialist Hospital, King Jaja Street, Port Harcourt; Military Hospital Aba Road; First Gate Dental Centre, Harley Street, and Old GRA; Atinu Critical Care and Professor Kelsey Harrison Hospital Emenike Street in Port Harcourt.
“We believe that the private sector participation must be encouraged and that is why we went into the memorandum of understanding with the private sector. The private hospitals we chose met the standard of the state government. We have engaged them to assist our patients.”
Continuing, Parker said: “These hospitals will offer services to women in labour, accidents, and surgical intervention. You can imagine a woman who has been attending the Braithwaite Specialist Hospital, and her due date for surgery is near, you cannot allow a woman like that to go into labour.
“We have decided to handover such persons to qualified medical doctors in the private sector, so that we don’t suffer so much casualty. The arrangement continues as long as the strike persist.
“It is actually a crisis management strategy. When the strike is over, the patients will return to government hospitals. I must make it clear that, these patients were registered under the Free Medical Care Programme of the state government.”
He commended the state Governor, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, for the foresight of partnering the private sector to alleviate undue suffering of patients during the strike.
Parker also said primary health centres built by the Amaechi-led administration in various communities would remain open for immunisation and other ad hoc services.
His words: “We have made arrangements for our people in the state. This will enable them access emergency care. Particularly, the pregnant women and children, including other people who may have suffered one form of accidents or the other.
“This is to make sure that our people do not suffer too much hardship during the period of the strike. You may wish to know that once a doctor is aggrieved, it affects the general public, because the primary concern of a doctor is his patient, so it is to every health worker.
“Because of the incessant strike by doctors and health workers, that is why, the Rivers State Government is pro-active under the Amaechi-led administration of to hook up this idea of partnering the private sector. Just, imagine that, we didn’t have that fall back now. The whole state would have been grounded. So, it is the foresight of Amaechi to establish this relationship with the private sector.”
He also urged the public to as a matter of necessity forward their emergency cases to the Emergency Medical Services of the Ministry of Health.
“For your free medical care programme, go to a Primary Health Centre close to you with your passports. Show that, you work and live in Rivers State, because, with that, it shows, you pay your tax in Rivers State. We have the responsibility to take care of patients registered under the free medical care programme,” Parker explained.