Liberia: JFK Chief Executive Officer Refutes Claims that Hospital Sends Patients Out to Buy Drugs
Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The Chief Executive officer of Liberia’s premier medical provider, the John F. Kennedy Medical center, Dr. Jerry F. Brown has denied allegations that the hospital often sends patients out to buy drugs that should have been provided by the hospital.
Dr. Brown, appearing alongside his top management team before the joint Budget Committee of the Legislature to defend the expenditure component of the hospital’s proposed budget for FY2020/2021 was confronted by Rep. Marvin Cole (District #3, Bong County) who raised concerned over the hospital’s constant practice of prescribing medications for most of its patients and leaving them to fetch it for themselves outside of the facility.
During the cross examination exercise, Rep. Cole explained that he had a personal experience at JFK recently when he took an ailing relative for treatment but the hospital only prescribed the drugs needed and relatives had to purchase the drugs, which were not available at the hospital’s pharmacy, outside of the facility before they were administered to the patient.
Said Rep. Cole: “I have been at the medical ward about three days ago. Patients are sent outside for gloves, drugs and lots of things before they are paid attention to. Now today, you are here asking for money, what are you going to do if you were to be given any money to stop or mitigate such situation?”
But Dr. Brown, in response said he was not aware that the hospital was involved with such practice.
However, he explained that in recent times, the hospital ran out of drugs and it was the Ministry of Health, partners and the funds generated from patients seeking treatment at the facility that assisted with management in the process.
“I don’t know when this occurred but I know periodically we have a drugs’ stuck out. If you look at that curve I showed you initially where we had this number of admitted patients and which were helping to generate fund to back up from what we got from our allotment, we had a steep decline,” Dr. Brown said in his response to Rep. Cole.
He continued: “During that period, we had to start begging the Ministry of Health and other partners to see how we could get gloves. Whether it happened during that period, I can’t say. But I can tell you right now that since we got our last allotment, we replenished many of those things. There are vendors who, after we ran out of some of those things, we asked to supply us but they refused on grounds that we have not paid them.”
Not satisfied with Dr. Brown’s response, Rep. Dixon Seboe (District #16, Montserrado County) interjected and asked Dr. Brown to clearly state whether the hospital was sending patients out for medical items like gloves and drugs. But Dr. Brown, in his response emphatically said “no.”
However, some observers who followed Tuesday’s hearing from the public gallery of the joint chamber of the Capitol Building said Dr. Brown was not sincere in his response to the lawmakers as it is an open secret that JFK Medical Center often asks patients to purchase medical items including gloves and drugs outside of the facility.
“I am a living witness to what the lawmaker (Rep. Marvin Cole) said. When I took my brother there, they prescribed the medicines and told us to buy it outside and we bought it before he was treated. They only come and administer the medication,” said an observer who asked for anonymity.
Another observer, Patrick Kollie, added; “Everyone knows that JFK always tells her patients to go outside and buy their drugs. Lucky Pharmacy right opposite the hospital is a testament to this. In this case, I think the management should be sincere so all parties can find a solution,”
The John F. Kennedy Medical Center was established by an Act of Legislature on May 3, 1972, as an autonomous agency of the Government of Liberia.
When dedicated, the Medical Center was composed of four institutions: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital; Maternity Hospital; Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts (a paramedical and nursing school); and Catherine Mills Rehabilitation Hospital (a psychiatric care facility). Currently, the hospital serves as a tertiary health care facility, which is the main referral center for the entire nation’s primary and secondary health care system. It is also the teaching hospital for the University of Liberia’s A.M. Dogliotti School of Medicine.
Some of its achievements in during Fiscal year 2019/2020, the management said include the construction of the JFK Medical Center Waste Collection Site, Pediatrics Hospital, Fiscal Annex, Maternity Annex (Family Planning/SGBV Unit) and the renovation and equipping of Central Pharmacy, Laundry and Dietary and Dental Department, among others.
Some of its objectives for FY2020/2021, include the Provision of specialist care for persons suffering from illnesses, disorders and or disabilities that require the services and facilities of a specialized hospital, conduct educational activities for training health professionals in the various area of disciplines, and to serve as a teaching hospital for the University of Liberia.