By Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI.
Imo State Specialist Hospital, Owerri, has started carrying out complex brain and spine surgeries.
Similarly, the hospital has, since the third week of December 2021, opened a functional Intensive Care Unit, ICU.
The hospital’s Chief Medical Director, CMD, Dr. Kaunda Ibewuike, a Consultant Neurosurgeon, disclosed this when he played host to the Special Adviser to Imo State Governor on Public Enlightenment, Prince Eze Ugochukwu.
His words: “The Intensive Care Unit of the hospital started in the third week of December 2021. The process of getting the unit ready started in October. We actually thought we could finish it before the end of October but it dropped into the second week of November and we commenced services third week of December.
“Since then, we have been able to make use of the resources available to help a lot of patients. Basically and primarily for brain surgery cases, the ICU has become very helpful. For neurosurgery, an intensive care unit is a must. When we commenced spine surgery, there are equipments that are necessary and needed for surgical services.
“There is an equipment called the CR x-ray machine. Without this machine, you can’t do spine surgeries and you will not believe that this machine is a standout machine for every hospital that intends to manage spinal conditions competitively and even currently orthopedic and neurological institutions are into this.
“We got this machine directly from Europe and with this machine, this place has become a spine center for complex spine surgeries. I have carried out many spine surgery sessions since August. We basically do spine surgeries every week from Monday to Friday. This hospital has four theatre suites. I can inform you that there are hospitals even federal hospitals that just have two theatre suites, and most of these theatre suites are shared, which means that if you are working as a neurosurgeon, you can only operate once a week.
“Here, we have a dedicated neurosurgical theatre that operate every day and because of this, we now stand out as a hospital with a dedicated neurosurgical centre, where you can also perform complex brain surgery.”
Answering a question on what he met on ground, when he assumed duty, Ibewuike said: “The hospital had poor organizational system, especially among the staff. We had a situation where, after 4 p.m, you only have two doctors on duty in the whole of the hospital, one covering the emergency pediatric and the other covering the accident and adult emergency, and the two of them covered the rest of the hospital, the maternity wing and the medical and surgical wing. “This is not right for a Specialist Hospital. So the first thing we did was to departmentalize the hospital. We now have Surgery Department, Medicine Department. We have also carried out a cardiothoracic surgery in this hospital.
“Although we don’t have a cardiothoracic surgeon, we had to invite an expert because the patient had a very terrible problem in which he broke his spinal cord and then broke his chest bone, so we needed to fix this two on the same day. All we had to do was to invite a cardiothoracic surgeon who came and fixed the chest bone and we had to carry on spinal surgery.
“It was a complex surgery, but I didn’t broadcast it. We achieved these feats within one year. With the employment of people and knowledge of what is happening here, the need for staff to be trained now became very important. So I had to get a second Neurosurgeon. This means that we actually have two neurosurgeons in this hospital and with these, we started growing more and more.”