MADINAH — The 500-bed King Fahd Hospital in Madinah has served residents of the Prophet’s City and surrounding areas for over three decades. But negligence settled in and the Ministry of Health uselessly spent millions of riyals for its rejuvenation. Although highly qualified medical cadre is available at the hospital, services rendered to patients are far from satisfactory.
Okaz/Saudi Gazette visited the hospital to shed light on some of the shortcomings following persistent complaints from citizens.
This reporter entered the hospital through its southern gate assigned for delivery of medicines, medical equipment and food and for waste disposal, and found heaps of waste containing discarded medical supplies and broken-down furniture at the entrance. Inside the hospital, safety measures did not meet the standards. There was no water in fire hoses and some of them were not in the working order. The last recorded inspection visits of the safety equipment were about a year ago, while there have been no inspections of fire extinguishers.
A visit to the laundry showed a large pile of sheets and blankets, with only one worker who was cleaning his bicycle in clear violation of sanitary rules. Climbing up the stairs, it was found that all emergency doors were locked, and using the elevator meant waiting 17 minutes for the only lift that had 13 persons inside without a fan, air-conditioning, or emergency button.
After an hour of roaming inside the hospital premises, Okaz/Saudi Gazette found that there were very few seats available for rest and they were complemented by bricks brought by in-patients.
Visiting the emergency section for more than an hour revealed the uncontrolled chaos there. Patients’ cars blocked access for Red Crescent ambulances; cleaning workers were attending to patients in the overcrowded emergency room, which was grossly understaffed to deal with cases that arrived at an average of one every six minutes.
Patients praised the hospital’s medical cadre who operated in exceptionally difficult conditions. They said most people, except those with meager resources, tended to avoid the hospital, however.
A hospital technician said that one operation takes place at the hospital every 58 minutes. He said the medical cadre was highly efficient. Even though the hospital suffered from a severe shortage of staff, patients arrive from surrounding areas of Madinah and from as far as Tabuk.
The technician criticized the infrastructure despite the fact that SR70 million was spent on refurbishing the hospital. “Of course, it is much better than before but the air-conditioning and leakage problems remain unsolved,” he said. The messy situation in the hospital has resulted in the dismissal of many health officials in Madinah, including Health Department directors in the past.
Dr. Abdul Hameed Shahat, the hospital’s director, affirmed his administration’s commitment to rejuvenate the hospital with changes in managerial and medical cadres. He said the hospital was keen on obtaining international accreditations.
Shahat has lately issued many directives dismissing a number of incompetent officials, and appointing others in different positions, including administrative services, operations, emergency and medical maintenance.