The financial difficulties the Phebe Referral Hospital in Suakoko, Bong County is confronted with has finally hit its health training program with indications that the School of Nursing may not reopen its doors to the nearly 300 medical students attending the school this semester.
Bong County Chief Medical Officer , Dr. Garfee Williams recently informed journalists, the school was indebted to vendors in the tone of more than $50,000.00 as a result the administration has decided not to further increase its debt burden.
Dr. Williams stressed the situation was created as a result of government placing almost all the students attending the medical school on its scholarship with the understanding that it (government) was ready to take full charge of the training process to increase the human resource mainly in the health sector of the country.
He indicated since they entered the new arrangement, government has been unable to paid the required fees for students benefiting from the scholarship scheme which has created extra burden for the school’s administration.
Under the arrangement government was to also expand the school with additional facilities, including a computer lab and the procurement of a bus to transport students, but none of these have been achieved under the new plan for the nursing school.
The Medical Doctor disclosed this has constrained the school administration to accommodate the government scholarship students in a limited budget sourced from partners and private students who are in minority attending the school.
He indicated that the only direct funding the school is surviving on now is from the French Medical Charity -Medicine De Monde which is mainly intended to support the nurse –midwifery training program which focuses on the reduction of maternal mortality in rural communities.
Dr. Williams warned that if the situation is not properly handled and solution reached there could be serious health consequences mainly in the rural areas.
He averred this also undermines government projection for human resource supply in the health sector and they will be falling short to put out more graduates to tackle the health issue.
He indicated the Ministry of health is fully aware of the embarrassing situation unfolding at the Phebe Nursing School.
In a related development the student leadership at the Phebe School of Nursing has described as troubling recent pronouncement by the hospital administration that the school may not open this semester due to financial difficulties.
In an interview this paper, the information officer of the student government Emmanuel Gray said, the information was highly worrisome and lamented if nothing is done to avert the current situation at the school, the educational quest for over two hundred nursing students would seriously be jeopardized.
Mr. Gray who is also benefiting from the government scholarship program at Phebe expressed fear that if the school administration decision stands, students that are to graduate this December may not complete their medical studies.
He disclosed they were faced with many challenges during the just ended semester as result of the same financial problem the school is engulfed with. He said few months before the school close their daily meal was drastically reduced because the caterers are not being paid as a result there was huge short fall in supply food to students.
At certain point the medical student lamented, they were constrained to eat from the hospital cafeteria where they normally cook sick patients food instill of the local catering firm that provides feeding for them.
The medical students’ leader has meanwhile made a passionate plea to government and its partners to see the urgent need in rescuing the situation at the school to ensure students get remittance this semester especially those on the government’s scholarship program.
Traditionally, the nursing school at the Phebe compound was built by the Government of Liberia with support from the World Bank with the plan to parallel with TMIMA mainly to train medical practitioners in rural Liberia to be deployed in rural communities.
The Phebe hospital has been privately managing the school prior to the World Bank through the Ministry of Health reaffirming its support to reopen Rural Health Training Center (RHTC).
According to the school administration, an allotment was made in the 2009-2010 national budgets for the transitional process to fade out the Phebe Training Program (PTP) and usher in (RHTC) but said amount was not made available until the budget year elapsed.
Already the main hospital is said to be submerging into its worst financial quagmire since its establishment more than fifty years and may likely close its doors to hundreds of patients benefiting from its services if nothing is urgently done to avert the looming humanitarian situation at that strategic health facility.
There is an acute shortage of essential drugs to provide prescribed treatment for most patients as a result they are now required to purchase their own drugs from private drug stores because the drugs are not available at the hospital.
The hospital has experienced cut in its electricity supply due to the shortage of fuel to run the two generators belonging to the hospital.
Only strategic point of the hospital receives electricity from a small generator while the rest of the hospital facility remains in total dark with the exception of the Emergency Room (ER), the Operation Room (OR) the intensive care unit (ICU) and coal chain where vaccines are stored to be administered to children.