Tuesday 20 September 2016

Darkness Reigns as University of Calabar Teaching Hospital Gets Crippled by N36m Power Bill

The University of Calabar Teaching Hospital has been thrown into darkness following a disagreement with an electricity distribution company.
Authorities of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital have disagreed with the Port-Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company over an estimated N36m bill that has thrown the tertiary health institution into darkness.
Following the development, investigation on Tuesday revealed that critical medical equipment had broken down, while the queue for patients expected to undergo surgeries has been on the increase.
According to The Punch, it was also observed that the hospital was battling to attend to the several patients expected to undergo surgery as a result of limited power supply to the critical units from the hospital’s alternative generators.
Besides, virtually all the offices in the administration building and some wards were in darkness due to the cutting-off of power supply from public source.
It was learnt that the power supply was cut off on Friday following a controversial accumulated N36m estimated bill from PHEDC.
Chief Medical Director of UCTH, Dr. Thomas Agan, said the action of PHEDC has crippled activities in the health institution.
He specifically blamed the Calabar office of PHEDC for disconnecting power supply at a time when over six patients were on queue for surgeries.
Agan, who solicited the intervention of the National Assembly to prevail on the Federal Government to take over the management of electricity bills, called on distribution companies to apply caution when dealing with health institutions, as it could lead to unnecessary loss of lives.
He said, “As at last Friday, the PHEDC business manager said our indebtedness stood at N36m. He threatened that if we did not defray it, they won’t re-connect us.

“One thing I want to let the public know is that a hospital is not a profit-making venture. All we do is service delivery and if you disconnect us, you have crippled the whole system.

“When the business manager led a team to disconnect us, we had six patients on the operating table. No matter how you want to make money, you do it with some degree of human face.

“I don’t know how they arrived at the estimated bill that has accumulated over time. Could it be that they just walked into the hospital premises to see the size before coming up with such a bogus amount as a bill.

“As I speak, because of this incessant power cut, most of our equipment have broken down. The radiology equipment and several other sensitive facilities have broken down.

“My appeal now is that either the Federal Government take over the servicing of power to the hospitals or bills coming in from the electricity company go directly to the Federal Government for settlement.”
The Business Manager of PHEDC, Calabar, Mr. George Chinwo, could not be reached, as his telephone number was switched off; while the Public Relations Officer, Meg Donkemezuo, said she was not aware of the development.
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