Hospitals are to admit patients, not reject them: The LASUTH perspective
With good intent, every generation has reasons for taking certain humanitarian decisions for the betterment of society. This can also be said of the evolution of the Cottage Hospital located in Ikeja, Lagos, which has metamorphosed into the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).
The hospital began operations in 1955 as a cottage hospital founded by the Old Western Regional Government to provide healthcare services for the people of Ikeja and its suburbs. A cottage hospital is a small rural hospital with a few beds. This cottage hospital concept is a type of hospital mostly located in the United Kingdom. As the need for quality medicare increased in Ikeja and environs, the hospital was transformed and became known as the Ikeja General Hospital before the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who then transformed it into a tertiary healthcare institution now known as LASUTH.
As is typical of a tertiary institution that aims to become a quaternary healthcare institution in the nearest future, its utmost priority should be in the areas of advanced medicare.
This is supposed to be the core of the healthcare services provided by the institution but there are a lot of distractions because uncomplicated cases that could be handled by the many Primary Health Centres and the 27 General hospitals located across the state are usually brought to LASUTH. As such, this impedes the core activities of the institution. Eighty percent of cases brought to LASUTH as emergencies are not tertiary cases.
It is very important to add that the management of LASUTH is poised to provide optimal care to all patients that come into its facilities. The ever-recurring tales of no bed space within the hospital have become disconcerting. Currently, LASUTH has a 750-bed capacity and with the bourgeoning cases of emergencies in the state, only 36 beds are available for medical and surgical emergency cases. Unfortunately, the demand for emergency beds is much more than what is available.
Under the leadership of the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital, Prof. Adetokunbo O. Fabamwo, the hospital has a policy of not turning any emergency back but in the event no available bed space, first aid is administered to the patient before any form of referral to any other reputable tertiary institution. Prof. Fabamwo noted that the hospital is established to admit patients and not turn them back but when all the beds are occupied, it is not feasible. In addition, it is unethical and unprofessional for patients to be admitted and treated on the floor.
With the strides of the current administration of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu in the health sector, the Lagos State Government has assiduously improved and empowered the primary and secondary healthcare facilities. A lot of infrastructural upgrades are ongoing. In addition, massive recruitment of health personnel was recently embarked upon at the three levels of health care.
As Lagosians keep thronging to LASUTH, the hospital keeps expending both human and material resources on primary healthcare cases rather than the serious and complicated cases that the hospital should be focused on delivering. Also, Lagos as the most populous state in the country and with the influx of more people into the Centre of Excellence, massive strain is constantly on its healthcare resources.
In the 4th quarter of 2021, the total number of visits to the hospital was a total of 50,959. Out of this, 3,861 were in-patients on admission, while 47,098 were out-patients. 2,658 patients admitted have been discharged. The percentage of bed occupancy averaged 98% approximately.
As an institution that is keen on improving its services, the hospital commenced the use of bed space managers who ensure speedy transfers of stable patients from the Emergency Units to the wards.
As at now, there is a construction of a 200-bed facility within the hospital in progress. In addition, the Lagos State Government has approved massive recruitment of relevant health workers. This process is ongoing.
We appeal to the general public to make use of Primary Healthcare Centres and General Hospitals to ease the burden on LASUTH.
Adewale is head of the Public Affairs Department of LASUTH