Trouble In Catholic Health Institutions In Volta

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Investigations conducted by Joy News, have revealed that tension is rising at the St. Anthony’s Hospital at Dzodze in the Ketu North District of the Volta Region.

The situation, follows a number of issues being raised against the Administrator of the Hospital, Christian Akoto-Brown, who also doubles as the Director in-charge of the Diocesan Health Services of the Keta-Akatsi Catholic Diocese.

The Diocese also has the Sacred Heart Hospital at Weme-Abor in the Keta Municipality, as well as the Comboni Hospital at Sogakope in the South Tongu District under its operation and supervision.

According to Ho-based Ivy Setordji, the St. Cuniberto Clinic and Maternity at Lume near Tadzewu in the Ketu North District, as well as the St. Anne’s Polyclinic at Tagadzi-Dorfor in the North Tongu District, are other health facilities being operated by the diocese.

Mr. Akoto-Brown, who has combined these two, but separate and permanent positions for more than fifteen (15) years, is being accused by staff and other stakeholders of the hospital of allegedly using his personal telephone number (0243339535) and e-mail address (cakotobrown@hotmail.com) on the official letterhead of the hospital, which is a subverted organization or health facility under the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG).

He is also reported to be allegedly operating a personal foreign bank account into which all donor funds to the hospital, and diocese are lodged.

Other allegations being leveled against the Administrator include, abuse of authority, misuse of resources, nepotism and disrespect for all categories of staff of the hospital and the diocese.

He is also being accused of allegedly procuring certain minor and major items like building materials (paints and brushes) as well as machines/equipment, instead of using the facility’s Procurement Officer or Procurement Committee to execute such duties.

The staff of the hospital, who have lived in this situation for almost 18 years, see the situation as a conflict of interest, adding that Mr. Brown’s dual role as Administrator of the St. Anthony’s Hospital and at the same time Director in-charge of the five health facilities in the Keta-Akatsi Catholic Diocese, puts him in a bizarre conflict of interest situation.

He allegedly dismisses staff arbitrarily from even the Diocesan level, one case of which is currently at the Ho High Court.

Our investigations, also revealed that the situation has led to low morale among the almost 280 staff of the hospital, some staff members in the diocese, low output of work, as well as a slow pace of development in the hospital, which does not only serve a large catchment area, including clients from neighbouring Togo, but also plays the role of a district health facility with a daily attendance of more than 250 patients. On orthopedic days on Tuesdays, attendance usually hits more than 300 clients.

The staff of the hospital and some residents of Dzodze, have described the situation as very alarming and worrying, saying Mr. Akoto-Brown, should be asked to step aside for investigations to be conducted into his almost 18-year stewardship as Administrator of the hospital in particular and Director of the Diocesan Health Services in general.

When contacted by Joy News, the Chaplain of the hospital, Rev. Fr. Harry Justin Barawusu, confirmed that the hospital and its staff, indeed have some issues with the Administrator.

According to him, he advised the local executives of the Health Services Workers’ Union (HSWU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of the hospital to use the right channels to approach the Administrator, for an amicable resolution of the issues, so as to ensure industrial peace and harmony.

Fr. Barawusu, however, declined to comment further on the matter, explaining that the issues are being handled at a higher level by the Bishop of the Ho Catholic Diocese, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Kofi Fianu, who is currently exercising oversight responsibility over the Keta-Akatsi Catholic Diocese.

A Management Expert and Lecturer at the E.P. University College at Ho, Roland Dabi, has described the hullabaloo at the St. Anthony’s Hospital, as highly unfortunate and unacceptable.

According to him, it is professionally, structurally and ethically wrong, if the allegations of the use of personal foreign bank account for donor inflows to the hospital and the use of personal telephone and e-mail address on the hospital’s official letterhead by the Administrator are indeed true.

He wondered, how the institution can grow or process its data or information, if such information is preview to only one person, who is supposed to operate in a corporate or institutional manner.

Mr. Dabi emphasized that, the best management practice, was for such addresses and telephone numbers to be official and preview to staffs appointed to manage such positions within the facility.

Unconfirmed reports have also indicated that plans are far advanced by the Administrator to allegedly transfer some staff members from the facility, in order to destroy possible evidence against him.

Mr. Akoto-Brown, is reportedly viewing these staff as being instrumental in the tension saga, as well as the numerous calls for his removal and full subjection to investigations into his long years of stewardship.

The staff are also calling on the Acting Bishop of the Keta-Akatsi Diocese, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS), CHAG, the National Catholic Secretariat (NCS), as well as the security agencies, including the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to intervene in the matter in order to bring industrial peace to the hospital in particular and the diocese as a whole.

Several staff are of the view that if nothing is urgently and immediately done as they put it ‘correct the wrong and the rot’ in the diocese, industrial peace and harmony, would perpetually elude the diocese and its five health facilities, adding that staff morale, could reach its lowest
ebb in the coming weeks and months.

Meanwhile, Mr. Akoto Brown, declined commenting on the issue.

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