At least seven people have died and the death toll is still rising at the Tamale Teaching Hospital following management’s decision to abandon a faulty oxygen producing machine, which serves as a supply point for many health centers in the three regions in the North.
Sources say the faulty oxygen machine requires a little below GHC30,000 to fix, but instead, the management has committed to a weekly procurement of insufficient oxygen at GHC15,000.
The rising mortality and increase in life threatening cases at the troubled public hospital according to Starr News checks, is due to the persistent skip of oxygen supply to some wards because of its insufficiency.
Many lives have been lost at the Accident and Emergency Ward, the main Theatre, Labour Wards and the Neonatal Intensive Care Units which have been severely affected by the oxygen crisis.
Seven babies reportedly died at the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) on Monday when the department run out of supply of oxygen, after a man died under same circumstances last month.
The oxygen plant has been producing enough volumes of oxygen since the facility morphed into a Teaching Hospital in 2008. The plant served as a supply point for many other health centers in the three regions of the north, and also for some state agencies including the Fire service.
According to reports, the machine has broken down multiple times but got fixed and there has never been record of shortage of supply until the new administration practically managed by three senior officers; Prosper Akambong, the Chief Executive Officer, Director of Administration George Atampugre and Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Abass Adam took over.
Workers at the facility have blamed the CEO and the two others for supervising the dysfunctional administration characterized by unprecedented public health meltdown that begun last two years. They have criticized many decisions of the trio claiming they have destabilizes the public hospital system.
Doctors, Nurses and other health professionals have called for the removal of the three individuals for being insufficiently enthusiastic and unresponsive.
Speaking to Starr News, Head of the Oxygen Unit Godwin Nyanyo said the main compressor that produces air to feed the oxygen plant had its bearings worn out since 2015 shattering it to produce for only emergency treatment.
According to him, the entire Tamale Teaching Hospital now depends on a 100 cylinders of oxygen every week supplied by two companies in the Ashanti regional capital following the wear and tear of the machinery, making it unable to produce at required volume.
“The pump has the bearings broken in them and we need to replace the bearings on the pump and the seals and the motor is also a challenge; it heats up after some hours of running so ideally we will need to change the electric motor. The dryer also has some leaking problems so we need to reconfigure the pipelines so we can work on the dryer, take the condenser out and repair the leakage
“What we are producing now is not enough because we have challenges with the plant. We are therefore relying on our auxiliary compressor which is not able to generate the capacity. What we produce now serves as back up and only goes directly to wards and theatres,” Godwin explained.
The visibly frustrated engineer said the only potent panacea to the regular shortage of oxygen supply which has killed scores of patients at the facility is to get the machine repaired but refused to comment whether management was ready to ensure that.
He however appealed to management to provide the department the needed components of the hospital of the oxygen plant to fix the problem.
“We want the hospital to assist us with the necessary parts that we need to put the whole system back online as it is meant to be – restore the main compressor by procuring the motor and the bearings for the pump and work on the dryer and filters”.
The director of administration, the spending officer declined comment saying he was ‘unprepared’ and that he needed a permission from the CEO who is currently on leave, after he was attacked and hounded out from his office by a regional political vigilante group for allegedly compelling nurses to administer expired anesthetic drugs on healthcare seekers.
Dr. Abass the director of medical affairs and acting Chief Executive Officer was also not available for comments