Ninety-three (93) years ago, an important national referral centre, the Korle Bu Hospital, came into operation as a first attempt at providing healthcare for the indigenous population of the Gold Coast. This was in 1923 under the administration of Governor Frederick Gordon Guggisberg.
Prior to the establishment of Korle Bu Hospital, the first definite attempt to provide a healthcare facility was in 1878 when Dr Jean opened a makeshift hospital behind James Fort for the use of government and imperial forces. Five years later in 1881 Governor Rowe laid the foundation stone for a new hospital at the present site of the High Court buildings, with 12 beds, for the indigenous people.
The colonial government was acutely aware of the need to construct a bigger hospital that could address the needs of the people of the Gold Coast. This led Governor Hugh Clifford to acquire the land for Korle Bu in 1916. Work on the hospital, however, delayed because of the outbreak of the First World War until 1919 when Governor Guggisberg took office.
From its humble inception as a 192-bed capacity hospital, Korle Bu has now evolved into a 2000-bed tertiary healthcare facility. It is the biggest hospital in West Africa and the third largest on the African continent.
The Role of Korle Bu in Patient Care and Training
After it was commissioned on October 9, 1923, Korle Bu has contributed immensely, in several fronts, to Ghana's health sector. The contribution it has made and continues to make has earned it various accolades such as â€˜the last stopâ€™, â€˜the ultimateâ€™, and â€˜the bestâ€™, among others. Millions of lives have been saved through the exceptional skills and hard work of its doctors, nurses and other important cadres of clinical and non-clinical workers in its over 90 years of service.
On average, 400,000 patients receive care in Korle Bu annually and this is besides the numerous patients who are referred for different investigations and medications by other hospitals. The profiles of these patients are as varied as the number of countries we have in the West Africa sub-region. Some of the countries where the hospital receives patients from include Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin and Liberia to mention a few.
Korle Bu has served as the bedrock for the training of different health professionals such as nurses, dispensary assistants, radiographers and laboratory scientists. With the establishment of the Ghana Medical School now the University of Ghana School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1962, the local training of medical doctors commenced. Now, about 250 students are admitted into the School of Medicine and Dentistry. As many as 200 nurses and midwives also pass out from the Nurses and MidwiferyTraining School annually. Korle Bu provides the platform for the practical training of these and other allied health professionals.
Korle Bu has, on several occasions, been adjudged the best training institution by the West African College of Physicians and Surgeons as well as the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons. This great hospital will continue to lead in the provision of patient care, training and offering a veritable ground for research.
Impact on our Facilities by Increasing Patient Load
There is a palpable strain on the infrastructure and other facilities because of the increasing demands of the population of patients, students, staff and their families as well as visitors to the hospital. Outpatients have increased from 200 to more than 1,500 patients daily. Student population has increased from a few hundreds to more than 4,000. For medical students, the population rose from 40 to almost 1,000 today. For nursing students, the initial intake of just six students in the 1940s has increased to more than 940 today. All these have combined to exert unbearable pressure on the hospitalâ€™s facilities.
Government, keenly aware of this strain on the hospital, through the Ministry of Health began a process of retooling Korle Bu and other health facilities in 2012. The retooling project has helped address some of the pressing infrastructure and equipment needs of the hospital. This notwithstanding, there is more outstanding infrastructural and equipment needs of the hospital if it is to effectively play its role as a national tertiary referral and traning centre in modern times. It is this desire to fill the infrastructural and equipment gap that has led the Board, Management and Staff to commit to find a sustainable solution to these challenges.
Establishment of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital Trust Fund
After it was sworn into office in September 2014, the current Board immediately undertook an assessment of the state of the hospital. The assessment brought out the fact that government financing and revenue from patient fees could not support the needed infrastructure and equipment needs of the hospital. The idea of establishing a trust fund was discussed and accepted.
The fund is envisioned to complement governmentâ€™s efforts and not replace it. Again, it is intended to serve as an independent, reliable and transparent vehicle for mobilising resources to address some of the critical challenges facing the hospital. To ensure transparency, a Board of Trustees made up of accomplished and distinguished men and women in business, industry, academia and other relevant fields has been appointed to man the fund. These carefully selected individuals will assure benefactors that their donations will be strictly used for the intended purpose.The trust fund, was successfully launched on Saturday, March 19, 2016.
List of Projects to be Executed Under the Trust Fund
The hospital has generated a list of essential needs referred to as priority projects. Support is being solicited from philanthropic corporate bodies and individuals to adopt and execute them under the aegis of the Trust Fund. Ways have been devised to sufficiently recognize and honour donors. The priority projects identified by the hospitals are:
Children's Emergency Block: This is a three-storey ultra-modern facility which will attend to all childrenâ€™s emergencies. The facility will have the capacity to support subspecialty services, particularly those that are currently unavailable. This is to ensure that sick children get the best care, with the required facilities and equipment. The estimated cost of the project is GHÂ¢25million. When completed, the Emergency blockâ€™s bed capacity will increase by 30 percent.
Gynaecological Care Complex: Currently, the Gynaecology Emergency, where our female patients are seen, is a structure cladded with roofing sheets. This is inappropriate for the dignity of our mothers, wives and sisters. Drawings for a modern Gynaecology Emergency has been done. The estimated cost of this is GHÂ¢20million and will create a decent and congenial atmosphere for the care of numerous females who throng Korle Bu for gynaecological care.
Water Reservoir: The hospital receives water mainly from the Weija headworks for its clinical and non-clinical activities. Our current reservoir stores up to 250,000 gallons of water. This reservoir can serve the hospital for just four hours! This is what happens when there is no supply from the Weija headworks. This is, however, inadequate for a teaching facility the size and complexity of Korle Bu.
The hospital Management hopes to raise GHÂ¢2million to build a 7million litre water reservoir to ensure uninterrupted clinical work for a week when water supply from Weija fails.
Sewerage Project: Korle Buâ€™s sewer lines are over 90 years old and, thus, very weak. The sewer lines, which were first installed with asbestos, are all worn out and the hospital is unable to adequately treat its liquid waste before disposal.
The project is to install pressure lines throughout the clinical areas. This work, which is estimated to cost US$30million, will enable the treatment of liquid waste before discharging it. The health benefits of rehabilitating these lines are obvious as effluents will be treated before discharge.
Surgical Outpatient Department [OPD] & Endoscopy Suite: The current OPD is small and always over-crowded during clinic days. The Endoscopy Unit is also housed in an inappropriate and obscure structure which is far removed from the Surgical Block. The hospital intends to construct a structure that will house an OPD and the Endoscopy Unit. This project is estimated to cost US$20million.
Central Sterile Supplies Department [CSSD] Retooling: The CSSD sterilises all the surgical equipment and linens used in the hospital. The Department needs a minimum of four (4) autoclaves to adequately cater for Korle Buâ€™s sterilisation needs.
Currently, only one autoclave is working at half-mast. As a result of this, sterilisation orders are queued based on the urgency of the department. This causes delays in our theatre work. The Fund needs a minimum of US$500,000 to install autoclaves and other equipment. With this, the Department will be able to work effectively.
Pledges and Donations
Individuals and corporate bodies who wish to support the KBTH Trust Fund to execute any of the priority projects can do so through the following avenues: cash donations into the Fund, taking up of an entire project for funding and contributions in kind, amongst others. Please note that all cheques should be written in the name of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (Trust Fund).
Korle Bu Teaching Hospital is undoubtedly an important national asset and all philanthropic corporate bodies and individuals are called upon to donate to the Trust Fund to improve the quality of care we provide to our patients.
Donate now to save a life. It may be yours or a loved one!