FEDERAL Medical Centre, Umuahia (formerly known as Queen Elizabeth Specialist Hospital), Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria is a 327-bed tertiary hospital and one of the leading health care providers in South Eastern Nigeria. The facility is centrally located and readily accessible from Enugu, Imo, Rivers, Ebonyi, Akwa-Ibom and Anambra states.
The hospital clients and patients are drawn from all over the country but predominantly from the South East and South-South parts of the country. The hospital environment is clean and ambient.
Although established in 1945 as a mission hospital and then named Queen Elizabeth Hospital, it was in 1991 taken over by the Federal Government and renamed Federal Medical Centre, with the mandate to serve the health needs of Nigerians, especially in South East geopolitical zone, particularly residents of Abia State where it is situated. In the last two years the management under the Chief Medical Director, CMD, Dr. Abali Chuku, an ophthalmologist, set up a reform agenda in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda to make the medical centre one of the best in the country in terms effective service delivery.
With the inauguration of eight-member board this year, the hospital has re-positioned to cope with increasing number of patients and diversity of clients’ needs. The facility currently boasts of 71 consultants in 26 discipline areas, vibrant residency training programme, dedicated and highly motivated workforce and strong team spirit. The centre’s mission is to provide specialised and comprehensive healthcare, using modern equipment, research and training through highly motivated workforce operating in a conducive environment to capture our antecedent as a mission hospital. FMC Umuahia has the fastest growing Residency Training Programme in Nigeria with recorded passes in surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, radiology, community medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, anesthesiology and internal medicine.
The Minister for Health Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu who was in the State recently to commission the State Diagnostic and Specialist Hospital, Umuahia paid unscheduled visit to the foremost medical centre after the commissioning ceremony in Umuahia. The Minister spoke with officials of the state government and management of the hospital on his impression of the transformation of FMC, Umuahia under the visionary leadership of Dr. Chuku,.
The Health Minister in an impromptu speech said: “I am on the invitation of the Governor , Chief TA Orji to come and open the Abia State Diagnostic and Specialist Hospital , Umuahia. I have little time to visit the Federal Ministry of Health and other parastatals that are here in the state. I see them on daily basis , but when it happens like this, I make effort to see how those the Federal Government entrusted with health matters are doing not only in terms of staff welfare, but to know how these institutions are coping, especially in the relationship with their host communities.
Basically, that is why l am here. I want to thank the Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre , Umuahia for welcoming us and being able to assemble his senior management team , consultants and other staff within a short time so that we can speak to ourselves.
I am happy that my visit here today is on a happy note. I recall that the last time I visited the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, it was on a sad note. The Medical Director was in Intensive Care Unit, ICU, and l came to see him there. My visit then was essentially for that purpose. I am so impressed with the progress you have made despite that unfortunate incident. I thank God for sparing your life. I am very happy that unfortunate incident has not deterred you. God has a reason for keeping you alive to complete the assignment he has given you.
A lot has been done by the medical director. I will like to commend your vision. You are one of the Medical Directors in the country that have vision. I am impressed with your vision . Without vision, one cannot make the desired impact.
“I want to commend you for completing this edifice we are meeting. I know it was started by the former Medical Director. I am happy you have completed it and opened it for use.
I am indeed happy, it shows progress. I am very impressed so is the Governor. It was actually the Governor who said I should go and see the building you have put in this place. He is also happy about it. I am also happy with your new project- that is the 88-bed ward.
“I think the vision you are bringing in is good. You are one of the Medical Directors of Federal Medical Centres in the country who keep on writing me on what you are doing. I am also happy for your pioneering work in terms of brain surgery and that is commendable.
You Should consolidate on that by supporting the unit that perform that medical feat to do much better.I am also happy you are paying salaries regularly. People who worked should be paid. I must commend you also on that. People should be promoted promptly’’ .
Earlier in his welcome speech, the Medical Director, Dr Abali Chuku said the policy thrust of the management is line with President Jonathan’s transformation agenda in the health sector and enumerated the progress recorded since he assumed office as the Chief Medical Director. He stressed the credit should go to the Minister for his cooperation and numerous support to the nation’s foremost medical centre.
According to Dr Chuku: “We have used available recourses to advance this hospital. FMC Umuahia in the past few years has witnessed a huge transformation. For years back, we had a hospital that had a poor public image. We came in here to see how we can change this public perception of the hospital.
We are happy to say that we have now a hospital that people can be very proud of. This is a credit to your administration as the Hournable Minister of Health. Under your administration, we have made giant strides and great impact . We have seen huge funding to this establishment. Under your administration, we have been able to build an 88-bed ward. It will come out as a three star ward with the state of the art facility’’ .
The 88 bed ward,Dr Chuku informed that the 88-bed ward “ has 16 private rooms, and in each private room, will have basically what you will obtain in any decent hospital in Europe. It will have bed heads, piped oxygen, piped vacuum and suction. It will have everything, kitted properly”.
We want to create a three-star facility in-patient facility so that when patients are on admission, they will feel as if they have been admitted into a hotel’.
Dr Chuku further stated “There is a saying that if you really want to be the best copy the best and add one percent, then you take over from the best. This is really what has been driving us in the Federal Medical Centre umuahia. We have identified departments and we have charged them to be the best in those areas. We have here in the Federal Medical Centre what we call SAFE Project. SAFE Project is Seek For an Area for Excellence.
Under SAFE project, We ask consultants and other healthcare providers to identify areas where they can excel. Having identified such areas, we provide training and exposure to enable them provide such level skill in the areas they have identified. We try to use this approach not only to improve on our services but also to provide such services as provided abroad’’.
There is no doubt that Dr Chuku is charting a new course for FMC Umuahia. He could best be described as a man with a midas touch, anything he touches turn to gold. He is media shy despite his great achievements in the health sector where he has proved his worth. His case is like a gold fish that has no hiding place as her voluminous achievements since he assumed the leadership of the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia has brought him to public limelight.
ONYEKACHI NWADINMA, a medical doctor , wrote from Aba, Abia State