Pleasantries: Congratulations to you sir, on your appointment as the Chief Medical Director. We commend the giant strides you have taken so far to advance staff welfare and reposition the hospital for greater efficiency in service delivery.
UBTHnews: Sir, can you share with us a brief history of yourself?
CMD: My name is Darlington Ewaen Obaseki and I am fifty years old. I attended Ezomo Primary School, Asoro Grammar school and University of Benin all in Benin City. I have equally had further exposure outside the country specifically at the University of Basel, Switzerland. I am a pathologist by training with special interest in gastro intestinal pathology. I was at a time the Deputy Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee in charge of Ethics, Monitoring and Evaluation of this great hospital as well as Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC) before my appointment as the Chief Medical Director.
UBTHnews: Sir, since you came on board as the Chief Medical Director, staff welfare has soared to unprecedented heights. Several demands by different unions have been met, earned allowances and promotion arrears paid, staff on CONHESS 6 and below were given Christmas gifts; the list is endless. How have you been able to achieve this even in the face of scarce resources?
CMD: There is a popular saying that when there is a will there is a way. When we came on board as a new management we discovered that there was so much despondency on the part of staff. Even though I perceived this being a part of the previous administration, we didn’t know it was up to till this extent. Having examined this, we came to the conclusion as a management to strive to give them (staff) a sense of belonging irrespective of the poor financial situation of the Hospital. We had to do what we did because we realized that, that is one sure way of enhancing their productivity. And just to add, the Christmas welfare package was not even our first line of approach. The very first thing we did as Management was to interact with staff, department by department and making them know that we understand their pains and concerns and also expressed our willingness to meet them. I would also like to say that we were fortunate because I came in when the Nigeria economy was gradually coming out of recession unlike during the era of the immediate past administration when the country was neck deep into the crisis.
UBTHnews: Sir, at various fora, you have consistently declared that your vision is to reposition the hospital as “the leading provider of healthcare solutions in West Africa” which is very laudable. How do you intend to achieve this?
CMD: To be the leading provider of healthcare solutions in West Africa is very achievable. I say this because looking at the hospital you will discover that, that is the template upon which this hospital was established. Take for instance the large expanse of land, a 21 hole golf course, an imposing Conference Centre and so on and so forth. By the time you take a very close look at all these, you will come to the conclusion that there is no other reason than for the hospital to render comprehensive healthcare services to the people both in the country and beyond. And in realizing this objective we shall be resuscitating all hitherto moribund facilities like the Stem cell transplant Centre and Radiotherapy Centre. Our main focus as a Management team is to make the hospital more functional in terms of service delivery to the public and this we are convinced is very much realistic. It is a clear cut road map for the hospital.
UBTHnews: Sir, concerning the Strategic Plan for the hospital, what modalities do you have in place to actualize this?
CMD: I am happy to announce to you that the document is ready and it will soon be released shortly to every member of staff to the extent that they will be acquainted with it. It is going to be more or less the national anthem of the hospital. The priority areas of this administration are clearly stated in that document. The first one is Client Satisfaction. This is because they (clients) are the major reason we are here. Our aim is that each time they have cause to interact with the hospital by way of service delivery they should leave satisfied. Another area of interest is Manpower Training and Development which is closely related to the next one which is Staff Satisfaction. This encompasses the operational environment of the staff with the intention of creating a more conducive and relaxed atmosphere for better productivity. The fourth one is Research and Technological innovations. This is very important in order for us to attain and sustain the desired height in terms of service delivery that this current Management is set out to achieve. The fifth one is Inward Medical Tourism. What is obtainable now is outward medical tourism. Like I said we already have everything on ground to actualize all this. We want to make UBTH a global brand and by implication strengthen her capacity to meet the healthcare needs of people within our catchment area and even beyond. Last but certainly not the least is Funding. This aspect is very vital because without concerted effort towards funding we cannot achieve all these things that we have set out to do.
UBTHnews: Considering the economic state of the Country, do you think it is possible to tackle all the challenges facing the hospital at once; perhaps the need for setting priorities therefore arises. Sir, what are the priority areas of this administration for the next four years?
CMD: The priority areas are as I mentioned a few moments ago. They are all spelt out in the strategic plan document. Like I said, the first one is client satisfaction. And under client satisfaction there are about six objectives like the Accident and Emergency care, Labour ward, Children Emergency, Out- patients, In-patients, etc. For instance at the Consultants- out- Patients Department, Accident and Emergency Centre as well as other out-patients outlets, we hope to reduce patients waiting time by at least, 50%. By this we mean a patient must not stay for more than thirty minutes on arrival at the clinic before seeing a doctor. And this is going to be replicated in all the clinics in the hospital including the General Practice Clinic (GPC). In fact, the Strategic Development Plan is a full and living document with measurable indices.
UBTHnews: Sir, what is the Mission and the Core Value of the hospital under this current administration?
CMD: Our vision is to make the hospital the leading provider of health care solutions in West Africa. Working as a team to improve our clients’ health by integrating research, quality care and education in an aesthetic environment. We are going to send this across to every member of staff. Our goal is to give every member of staff a sense of belonging in the care for our clients.
UBTHnews: Sir, can you tell us a little about your Management team?
CMD: With all sense of humility, I want to say that this hospital is fortunate to have this present team of Management in place because some of the best brains in this country are members of the team. This Strategic Development Plan document that we just talked about was actually put together with the active participation of the Management team. And I must tell you that their individual and collective contributions so far has helped in realizing our modest achievement within these past few months that we have been on the saddle.
UBTHnews: There is a general notion by the public that UBTH fees are too high and almost unaffordable by the common man. Sir, are there plans to make services in the hospital more affordable?
CMD: What I will say is that I agree with you vis- a- viz the economic situation of the country and not on its own merit. This is reflected again in the number of waivers and abscondees that we have in the hospital. Last year we waived over 35 million Naira. What we have also decided to do as a management team is that we will review our prices across board. By this, I mean we will be look at them with a view to ensuring that our services aren’t over priced in some areas and underpriced in some other areas. It is also our belief that the hospital is a social service oriented organization and it therefore implies that our services should not be inaccessible to our people. So, we are very much committed in looking into the issue.
UBTHnews: The hospital Stem Cell Unit became the first centre in Nigeria to perform a bone marrow transplant and blood therapy a couple of years ago and the Radiotherapy Unit used to be one of the best in the country. Today, these units seem not to be functioning optimally. Sir, how do you intend to strengthen them?
CMD: Part of the priority areas of this Management is inward medical tourism. If we are to actualize that, we have no choice than to ensure that these two units are brought back to life. In doing that, practical steps have been taken to resuscitate the machines by initiating interactions with experts who have come for evaluation. We are very convinced that they will be back on stream in no distant time especially against the backdrop of the interest of the Federal Government of Nigeria in the treatment of cancer in the country. Incidentally, UBTH has been designated as a Centre for treatment of cancer in the Country. We are hoping that they (Government) will give us additional machines in due course. Also, I wish to announce to you that a 50 bedded dedicated ward for treatment of cancer patients is ready. For the Stem Cell Transplant Unit, we are equally very committed in bringing the place back on track. But I want to believe that the major issue here is power supply because virtually all the services rendered in that centre are power dependent. We are hoping that in no distant time we should be able to get the approval of our supervisory Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Health and other regulatory agencies i.e the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for independent power supply to the hospital. We are already discussing with our partners on that and the interactions have been fruitful so far.
UBTHnews: Sir, what is your guiding philosophy in life?
CMD: There are so many things that guide me. One of which is to focus on those issues that I consider important in life. I have heard people say that one of the things they admire in me is that I don’t know how to keep enmity with anybody. If I feel offended by your action I will express my displeasure there and then. After then I move on. To me this is the commonsensical thing to do. Don’t be distracted by petty issues. Secondly, I invest a lot in relationships though I take that to be a two way thing. I say this because I expect it to be beneficial to both parties not in terms of money but intelligence. These are some of my personal philosophies in life.
UBTHnews: Sir, given the busy schedule of your office, how do you find time to relax?
CMD: I am a very playful and fun-loving person. I must admit that since I came into office as CMD it has not been easy but I still find time to relax. Sometimes I still find time to play football and engage in some recreational activities.
UBTHnews: Thank you very much Sir, for your time and we wish you a successful tenure of office.