By Godwin Akpan
Its use remained unknown and undervalued by Nigerians until December 10th 2016, when the Reigners Bible church international, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, collapsed in the middle of service, killing and injuring scores of people. Many on the throes of death were rushed to the Multi Specialist Hospital built amidst criticism by the then governor, Sen. Godswill Akpabio. There, many found the grace and survived. But for the hospital with its sophisticated equipment and proximal advantage, the passage to eternity would have been the option.
But why wouldn’t death be an option? It would have been because prior to the completion and subsequent commencement of full medical operations at ISH, no hospital in the country could boast of a 21st century medical facility. Nigerians feared for their lives. The fear most Nigerians entertained was not their sicknesses or the medical conditions they found themselves, rather the state of hospitals in the country.
Like a world renowned surgeon, Eapen Koshy, once said during an interview: “With Ibom Multi Specialist Hospital in the country, you have got the best in Africa in the area of Medicare”. And as often said: ‘The taste of the pudding is in the eating’, and so it was, on this day of sorrow and gnashing of teeth, a day of pains and mourning, a day described by many as ‘black Saturday’ in Nigeria, ISH opened its doors of mercy and grace and gave back lives to many who never thought they could have a second chance.
Within hours, over 20 Orthopaedic surgeries, 15 Neuro surgeries and several other cases were successfully administered to the over hundred admitted victims of the collapsed church building. This success achieved by the ISH, many believe has repositioned the hospital to regain its status as the best hospital in sub Sahara Africa.
Testimonies of survivor and family members abound.
After weeping profusely for hours following poor medical attention provided his two kids by a certain hospital in the state (name withheld), Mr. Uko Imah, a member of the Reigners Church said amidst smiles: “But for Ibom Specialist Hospital, I would have lost my kids. All thanks to God and the man whose vision made this possible. What other hospitals struggle to do in hours was achieved by ISH within minutes. Look at my children now, they are responding faster than expected”.
Bishop Uwanta’s testimony was not different. Uwanta who is the board Chairman of Local Government Service Commission (LGSC), said, he wandered what could have possibly happened to the victims of the church disaster if ISH was not in existence. “I keep asking myself this very important question. What if we never had this facility and the experts here in AKS? What if Ibom Specialist Hospital was not there? The truth is that, we could have lost many lives. Almost everyone here had major surgeries. Where would the resources to fly everyone abroad for treatment come from? This hospital has given us a second chance to live”.
A 66 year old clergyman, Rev. Dominic Ekpe, who was responding to question amidst tears on his sick bed, described ISH as the best thing that has happened to Nigeria in recent time. “I must confess to you my brother. I have been hearing about the wonders this hospital has been doing, but I never quite believed it was this efficient. I thought it was one of those scams politicians are known for. Don’t forget this hospital was built by the former governor, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, and he is a politician. But my perception changed completely when I regained consciousness and discovered I was at ISH. When I was shown the pictures of how severely wounded I was and discovering how I am at the moment, I simply wept because, grace has found me here in ISH”.
“The era of seeking medical attention abroad for any health condition is over with ISH in Nigeria”. These were the exact words of a university teacher whose husband was admitted in ISH following the December 10 tragedy in Uyo. The mother of four, who gave her name simply as Mrs. Efangha, said it took quality health delivery service to get her husband back to life. “Of course I know very well that it takes the grace of God for my husband who was obviously gone to be back to life. But don’t also forget that most people who suffered similar fate as my husband but were taken to other hospitals with less medical equipment lost their lives. The truth is, my husband is alive today because of the perfect health facilities and of course, best medical professionals we have here in ISH”.
Upon his visit to ISH to commiserate with the affected persons and their families, Governor Udom Emmanuel, assured all the victims admitted in ISH of the best medical attention. Udom further assured them that with the quality of equipment and manpower found in ISH, the safety of all was guaranteed.
“I am quite certain that everyone here will go back home in a perfect condition. Family members should be rest assured that the best facility that can be compared to the very best anywhere in the world is right here, and of course, the medical experts here are some of the very best in the world with proven records in the medical profession”.
The speaker of the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly who is a constant visitor to ISH following the disaster noted that, the level of medical attention provided the victims and the facilities in ISH is the reason why we are all rejoicing at this moment.
“God has shown His healing hands mightily in the lives of the affected persons here in ISH. As a state, we have done our best in making sure that all the major cases with regard to the collapsed building be immediately referred to ISH where we can guarantee safety and quality service delivery. This account for the testimonies you are receiving from victims and their family members.
“If this facility was not on ground, I am sure by now the number of dead case would have tripled. We have one of the best health facilities in the world here in Akwa Ibom State”.
The former governor of the state and present Minority Leader of the Nigerian Senate, Godswill Akpabio, who flew in from Abuja, the nation’s capital to commiserate with the victims of the church disaster pointed out that, one of the reasons he conceived and built the 21st anniversary hospital was for times like these.
Moved by compassion at the sight of the plethora of broken humanity and of course, people who must have been passing through the throes of pains as a result of the fallen building, Sen. Akpabio, whose eyes were flooded with tears, prayed for the quick recovery of all the affected persons and thanked God that the state government under his stewardship had the vision to bring such medical facility to bear.
“One thing about leadership is seeing beyond what others see; looking far ahead into the future. We saw the future and decided to prepare for a time like this. Today, the situation would have been worse if as a government we never had this vision.
“The cases we are seeing here are the ones handled by the best hospitals overseas. And in this period of economic hardship, where would we have had the resources to fly everyone overseas for treatment. The situation would have been more disastrous but for ISH. Look at the speed at which the doctors are working. Look at the environment at which they are discharging their duties, look at the equipment which they are using to work. This was simply the best we could have possibly bequeathed to our people as a government. Our people have now realised that there was a government and there is a government in Akwa Ibom State”.
On his part, the Medical Director of ISH, Dr. Yemi Johnson said everything needed to deliver quality Medicare to the affected persons were readily available. He described the success recorded in ISH at a time like this as one achieved through a collective effort.
“Medical experts flew in from different parts of the country to assist our team of experts. The Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewale, sent in a team of medical personnel to assist in providing help to the victims.
Private practitioners with proven track records in the medical profession were also quite helpful. But of course, the success we have recorded so far couldn’t have been possible if the hospital was not fully equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. The facilities made our job quite easy and we deliver effortlessly. We have the very best anywhere in the continent”.
It would be recalled that ISH which was commissioned on 26th of May 2015, has restored life to many who were obviously walking in the valley of the shadow of death, following series of successful surgeries administered at various times. People within the country and outside the country have testified to this.
Professor Nicholas Dousis from Athens, Greece, had had his overhanging abdomen as a result of Obesity successfully operated at the ISH few months ago.
According to Dousis: “This is the fourth surgery in my life, and I can confirm to you that this is the best. I have done three operations before all in Europe; none of the operations could be compared to this operation conducted in Nigeria. I could have done this operation in my country, Greece, but I decided to do it here because of the state-of-the-art facilities here and the medical team here are excellent professionals. Nigeria and Africa should be thankful to Mr. Godswill Akpabio”, he had said.
The testimony of Uwem Johnson Akpan, a Port Harcout based Akwa Ibom born was not different as according to him, sadness and sorrow which had constantly been his companion, was completely replaced with joy and happiness when he had an encounter with ISH few months ago.
Uwem was billed to be flown to India for his surgical operation but was constrained by finances. His marriage plans were postponed because according to him, he was ashamed of the embarrassing skin growth known as Large Bilateral Keloid.
Uwem harkened to advice to visit ISH, and upon his visit and subsequent operation, his life never remained the same. He became a brand new man. Uwem believes that ISH is a gift to the people of Akwa Ibom, Nigeria and the African continent.
The Ibom Multi Specialist Hospital has some of the best manpower deployed to run proceedings both in the medical and administrative setup. The equipment at ISH can be compared to the very best anywhere in the world. With a 640 CT scan, Modular theatre and various sophisticated equipment at ISH, your assurance for efficient medical solution is simply guaranteed. And with ISH being on the barricade of our health services, Akwa Ibom can boast of an efficient health care delivery system like any other in the west.