By Ephraims Sheyin
The management of the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) on Wednesday threatened to stop feeding patients if complaints against the gesture persisted.
Its Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof. Edmund Banwat, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos that the initiative, which is heavily subsidised by the hospital, was being criticised by patients and their relatives.
“We see the feeding of patients on admission as a social service, which we run at a heavy loss; as a specialist hospital with referral cases, we know that feeding forms part of patients’ management.
“We expect the patients to cooperate with us and appreciate this gesture and not complain that we are forcing them to pay for food they do not want to eat.
“We subsidise the feeding and charge N100 only for breakfast and N150 for lunch and supper.
“Our desire is to ensure that patients are fed with food rich in the required nutrients crucial to their recovery process as prescribed by the physicians.
“We have tried to educate them but may be forced to review the gesture if the complaints persist,’’ Banwat said.
He said he was surprised by allegations that patients with diabetes were being forced to eat carbohydrates, stressing that physicians’ instructions usually determined the meals.
Banwat said that patients’ feeding had aided effective monitoring, adding that it was easier to check the recovery process if directives from the physicians were followed.
He added that the hospital’s feeding programme was even advantageous to the patients’ relations as JUTH was far removed from the Jos city centre.
The CMD said the programme would save patients’ relatives the cost of bringing food from the town on a daily basis.
“The feeding has eliminated the former situation where relations of patients turned all corners of JUTH into cooking points and spewed smoke all over the place,’’ he said.
Corroborating Banwat, the hospital’s Chief Catering Officer, Sir Michel Odi, said that feeding of the patients used to be free until the outfit became a teaching hospital.
“As a specialist hospital, feeding is part of the therapy and is one crucial way of managing patients on admission.
“It is the doctors that decide what constitute patients’ meals. They decide the quantity of protein, salt, carbohydrate, sugar or starch in the meals.
“We therefore insist that patients should pay for food while depositing money for drugs and bed.
“However, some patients are opposing this policy and are insisting that we cannot force them to eat here.
“We have a duty to manage them since they are here; they should subject themselves to the rule in their own interest,’’ Odi said.
On diabetic patients, the chief catering officer said that dieticians usually reviewed their meals to determine the quantity of carbohydrates or protein permissible in their diets.