Doctors In Solomons Hospital ‘Not Impressed’ With Renovations

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Ongoing repairs to operating theaters ‘not safe,’ creating risky environment

By Biriau Wilson Saeni

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 17, 2016) – Doctors working at the operating theatres at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) are not impressed with the quality of repair work done so far.

Two of the three theatres have been closed since December last year due to their debilitating states.

The situation was kept under wraps until more than a week ago when an Australian surgeon working at the hospital, with concurrence of his local colleagues, decided to go public about the problem.

A prominent local construction company, Tropic Glass and Aluminium (TGA) quickly stepped in and offered to repair the theatres at no cost to tax-payers.

The hospital management initially agreed to the offer but later ordered TGA workers to stop any further repairs due to the technicality of the job.

Furthermore, the management said a contractor was already identified.

But a visit by the Solomon Star to the theatres on Monday witnessed while renovations are underway, doctors are not impressed with the work done so far.

A little known construction company, Quality Bargain Repair Builders, has been engaged to do the renovation.

"The work done so far is not fitting for a hospital operating theatre," a staff, who had worked at the hospital theatres for the last 25 years, told the Solomon Star.

"I am surprised to see the contractor put two manholes on each of the ceiling of the operating theatres 1 and 2," he added.

"I’ve never come across any operating theatres with manholes in the ceiling. You cannot put manholes above the operating tables because it’s not safe that way.

"An operating theatre is a delicate place to work so it must be well protected.

"Whoever is responsible for the architecture of the renovation should explain why they decided to put up two manholes up there," the staff said.

He also questioned why the contractor decided to put the lighting outside the ceiling instead of hiding it inside.

The staff said lights are currently exposed, which is very risky for doctors and patients alike.

He added exposing the lights on the ceiling would also trap dust over time, which is dangerous and unsafe.

"I’ve approached some of the workers doing the renovationand questioned them about the quality of their work but their response was ‘weare just doing what we were told to do’.

"The hospital management should live up to its words by getting high technical builders to do the work," he said.

An email sent to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Dr Tenneth Dalipanda for explanation has not been answered.

Meanwhile, an internationally acclaimed surgeon who used to work at the hospital Dr Hermann Oberli from Switzerland, said the "NRH is as sick as the patients".

Writing in the Solomon Star last Saturday, Dr Oberli said:

"One thing for sure: operating theatres, if they are meant to last, need strong concrete ceilings and not just cardboard-like panels fixed to thin wooden beams not even strong enough to carry the weight of operating lamps without being reinforced.

"Probably the only permanent solution is to pull down the existing operating theatres and build decent ones according to international standards.

"This is exactly what the patients would deserve."

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