-Dr. Jefferson Sibley Confirms
Due to lack of sufficient budgetary allotment to run the Phebe Hospital in Suakoko District, Bong County, the facility may soon to close its doors to the public, the hospital’s chief medical officer told a community radio station in Gbarnga City over the weekend.
Dr. Jefferson Sibley on Friday, November 16, confirmed the hospital being out of essential medicines and supplies for emergency care, adding: “The shortages are affecting the country’s centrally located Phebe Hospital, which handles serious cases referred to it from other facilities.”
At the moment, according to Dr. Sibley, the hospital is experiencing serious shortages of basic medicines, including things like vaccines, syringes, gloves, catheters, and gauze. As a result, he said the administration is now turning patients away.
“We are now giving prescriptions to patients to buy their medications outside the facility, because of the prevailing situation at the hospital,” Dr. Sibley said.
He informed reporters that over the past years the hospital has incurred a little over US$300,000 as debt to vendors who supply drugs and fuel for the running of the hospital, as well as the Phebe School of Nursing.
Dr. Sibley: “No vendors want to supply the hospital with drugs or petroleum until its obligations are stable with them.”
He specified that although the amount of US$ 1.8 million was allotted to the hospital in the 2018/2019 National Budget, the hospital needs US$3 million to run effectively, taking into consideration power supply that is switched off before 10 p.m., which is not unique to any hospital, including a referral hospital like Phebe.
“Without electricity, we will not be able to run this hospital, because running such an institution on generator is cost intensive,” Dr. Sibley said.
According to him, the outstanding debt is making it difficult for Phebe to provide some basic services to patients on a daily basis. He said the hospital is burdened with providing services to the impoverished segment of the population and, at the same time, enforcing a follow-up strategy on defaulting patients.
Dr. Sibley: “The hospital was opened in 1921, and the Phebe School of Nursing was the first nursing school in the country. In spite of being attacked and looted during the country’s civil war, the facility never stopped offering services until the war ended in 2003. But this particular situation is more than the war, because patients are asked to buy their own prescribed drugs outside the hospital, a situation which is not good for any medical institution.”
He is therefore appealing to the Bong County leadership to consider the Phebe Hospital a priority in its development, although during the recent County Council Sitting the county allotted US$79,000 in the budget for the hospital.
“Public hospitals in Liberia received funding from government, which is then complemented by collections made internally; but one of the challenges facing those institutions is the ‘free-of-charge’ treatment,” a female health practitioner told the Daily Observer.