*As facility plunges into 4 months darkness over unpaid N200,000 electricity bill
By Gabriel Olawale
THIS is not the best of times for patients that are seeking health care services in Ojodu Primary Healthcare Centre, PHC, in Ojodu Local Council Development Area of Lagos State.
A first time visitor to the Centre needs no soothsayer to know that all is not well with the facility which serves as a flagship health centre in the area.
From the faded signpost at the entrance that ordinarily should bear the name of the facility, to the outer reception littered with disused appliances and equipment, it is clear that the Centre is in dire need of attention.
When Vanguard visited the 24-hour Centre during one of its immunisation days, it was jampacked with women and children, and the fans were not active to dispel the heat because there was power blackout in the facility.
Investigation by our reporter revealed that there had been no electricity supply at the Centre for four months.
Reliable sources at the Centre who spoke to Vanguard under anonymity said the electricity supply was disconnected following inability of the health facility to settle a N200,000 bill. The sources maintained that spirited efforts to rectify the situation had not yielded fruit.
“Our prayer is that the incoming Chairman will help resolve the issue of electricity. Also we don’t have enough space as our patients are going through a lot as well as those working here,” one of the sources stated.
At the Centre, patients readily shun the directive on the wearing of face mask even though instructions on COVID-19 safety guideline was boldly displayed at the gate. Inside the cramped waiting room, patients were seen closely seated together without observance of any form of social distancing.
Women that patronise the Centre for immunisation and other services targeted at nursing mothers and children, are currently crying out for urgent assistance as many of them say they are unable to afford the services in private hospitals.
Patients cry out
Some of the women told our reporter that many potential clients in the area and environs now stay away from the Centre because of the persistent blackout.
Some nursing mothers with babies strapped to their backs who were observed standing due to the lack of sitting space, lamented that becaise of the suctained power blackout, several pregnant women patronising the Centre, now dread to go into labour at night.
In a chat, a nursing mother who simply identified herself as Mrs. Romoke said the situation was not new to her.
“I delivered my baby here three months ago and it was in the day time but I was told to stay back for the next 24 hours so that they could observe my baby.
“It was not easy here that night. I was so scared because there was no light, they just brought one rechargeable lamp and after some hours that lamp ran out of power and we were thrown into total darkness.
“I remember one woman that I met here that delivered in the night. Her delivery was done under torch light. The woman said the matron and midwife on duty put up professional conduct as one took the delivery while the other held the lamp.”
On her part, Mrs. B Oluwaranti who was carrying her nine months old baby, and had been standing for over one hour, also expressed her dismay.
“As you can see the whole seat is occupied, no place to seat. I am not the only one standing so I don’t see it as big deal. This is how we usually stand since the COVID-19 outbreak. You will only be lucky to come early and find somewhere to seat.
Also baring her own mind, Mrs. Ijeoma P. who managed to find a seat, did also did not see observance of social distancing as a big deal.
“Social distance for where? You will even thank God if you are lucky to find space to seat, as you can see we are more than 11 on a bench. The heat is too much and I am not comfortable wearing a nose mask for a long time that is why I removed it.
“Before we used to wash our hands and also use sanitiser while wearing our face mask, those things are no longer available as you can see that some of their staff are not wearing face masks as well.”
Ojodu PHC medical health officer reacts
When contacted on the telephone, the Medical Health Officer of Ojodu PHC explained that a small diesel generator had been provided for the Centre but no one had showed up to collect diesel from the local government.
The official stated: “We are not expected to grant interview, by the way who gave you my number? You will be doing me a disservice by writing about the light situation in the paper.
“You are not helping me because on this issue we and the Chairman met yesterday and it is just little things that is causing the delay, the voucher is ready for payment to Ikeja Electric.
“The issue of Ojodu light did not start today, I know the Chairman is making effort to ensure there is light while the local government provides diesel for the Centre.
“The Officer-In-Charge is supposed to ensure she sends someone to pick up the diesel which I discover that everybody just sat down and nobody goes to carry the diesel.
“There is generator at the centre for use. All what they need to do is go to the local government to collect diesel.”
When contacted, the Head of Corporate Communication, Ikeja Electric, Felix Ofulue said the matter is being investigated.