St Charles Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha is a Secondary Healthcare Provider owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha.
It is one of the biggest non-governmental hospitals in South – Eastern Nigeria. It was officially opened in 1965 by the then Archbishop of Onitsha – Archbishop Charles Heerey. Today, it has expanded to a 200 bedded hospital with different units. The hospital is open for a 24-hour service daily. However, there are full-scale operations from Mondays to Fridays, and skeletal services during the weekends. The hospital offers both in-patient and out-patient services.
St Charles Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha, runs full scale services from Mondays to Fridays from 8.00am to 3pm. From 3pm to 8.00am and also through the weekends, the hospital runs full IPD services and skeletal OPD services. The hospital has a staff strength of about 350. Among these are 16 Consultants, 11 medical officers, About 70 staff nurses, about 90 assistant nurses, and a host of others. It attends to over 2600 out-patients and admits about 400 in-patients monthly. The hospital has won many awards for its exemplary humanitarian services.
The history of Health Services in the Archdiocese of Onitsha dates back to the arrival of missionaries at the bank of the River Niger at Onitsha in 1885. When the missionaries arrived from Europe and settled, they realized that the local people were suffering from different kinds of diseases, and had not adequate medication to combat such. Following the footsteps of Christ who came to bring both bodily and spiritual healing to humanity, while evangelizing the people, they embarked upon sourcing drugs from their continent and giving free treatment. Thus, healthcare services of the Catholic Church started in Nigeria, East of the Niger.
The progress of this mission resulted in building hospitals in different parts of this region – Annua, Emekuku, Ihiala, Adazi and Nsukka. The need for a specialist hospital spurred the then Archbishop of Onitsha to begin a gigantic project in the heart of Onitsha, helped by both foreign and local donors. The fruit of this labour is St Charles Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha.
The hospital, owned and managed by the Archdiocese of Onitsha, was officially opened by Archbishop Charles Heerey in 1965. Since then, the Archbishop of Onitsha has been the proprietor of the hospital. Today, the proprietor is His Grace, Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke.
The Archdiocese of Onitsha has a board that overlooks its health services – Onitsha Archdiocesan Hospitals Governing Board. The Chairman of the board currently is Very Rev. Fr Dr. Patrick Omutah. The Secretary is Very Rev. Fr Dr. Basil Ekwunife, who doubles as the Co-ordinator of Onitsha Archdiocesan Health Services. Other members of the board include Rev. Fr Dr. Izunna Okonkwo (CEO St Charles Borromeo hospital Onitsha), Rev. Fr Francis Ojukwu (CEO Holy Rosary hospital & Maternity Waterside Onitsha), Rev. Fr. Fabian Muoedu (CEO St. Martins Ugwuagba), Rev. Fr. Linus Ezedinachi (CEO Immaculate Heart Hospital and Maternity Umudioka, Rev. Fr. Chimaobim Okoye (CEO Immaculate Heart Hospital and Maternity Aguleri, Rev. Fr. Augustine Nweke, Dr A. Anwuna, Dr J. C. Okafor, Dr C. Akunyili, Prof. Aghaji, Dr Francis Maduekwe (DCS SCBHO) and Dr .Chris Obi (DCS HRHMO), and Dr. Muoghalu.
The hospital is currently managed by a priest of the Archdiocese – Rev. Fr. Dr. Izunna Okonkwo . The Director of Clinical Services is Dr. Francis Maduekwe, while the Director of Administration is Rev. Fr. Augustine Nweke.
The hospital is open for attending to patients 24 hours daily. However, it operates on full scale from Mondays to Fridays between 8.00am and 3.00pm. From 3.00pm till dawn and during the weekends it offers skeletal and emergency services.
The Mission of our hospital is to share in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ through provision of holistic healthcare services that are qualitative, accessible, affordable and which affirm the sanctity of human life and respect for human dignity.
The vision of our hospital is to become the leading health care provider in the east od the Niger.
At St Charles Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha, we care for both the physical and spiritual health of our patients.
A WORD ABOUT THE BORROMEO HOSPITAL
(Archbishop Charles Heerey’s Note at the Formal Opening of the Hospital, 1965) It can be truly said that the Hospital has had its origin in an act of Faith. Charity, of course, is the ruling virtue of all hospitals, for they are nothing if not institutions of charity. But to plan an institution like the Borromeo, and to attempt to build it with little or no finances, requires strong Faith in a benign Providence. When our Mission first decided to undertake medical work here in Eastern Nigeria, we concentrated on rural areas, as we had thought that the townships would be well provided with Government Hospitals – Onitsha, Enugu, Port-Harcourt, Calabar had each its Government Hospital with an efficient staff in the early thirties. We, therefore, made our first feeble attempts at Annua, Emekuku, Ihiala, Adazi, Nsukka, in that order. I do not overlook the fact the Church Missionary Society had even then already set up that splendid hospital at Iyi-Enu which has done such wonders in the relief of suffering all these years.
But the people of Onitsha had often petitioned us to bring some of our medical workers into Onitsha, as they were successful the rural areas. Our maternity hospital down at the Waterside was highly popular, and the visiting Sister Doctor from Ihiala attracted a numerous clientele. The requests continued and at length, by the generosity of Barrister F. Anyaegbunam and his family, this magnificent site was acquired. A meeting was held of representatives of the four parishes of the township at which extravagant promises of financial help were made. Our faith in these promises was not proportionate to the promises themselves, but our minds went back to 1933 when with only £2,000 to our credit we started to build Holy Trinity Cathedral and Christ the King College at one and the same time. Providence favoured us then. Why not put the same faith in Providence now? The act of faith was made with less than £9,000 in hand and now we have finished this group of buildings at a cost of £105,000, including equipment.
In deep humility and inexpressible gratitude, we turn our hearts to Almighty God and thank Him for guiding us through the anxious days of construction, and ask him to bless all those who have so generously contributed to this work of charity. Our benefactors from overseas are many and generous. From Onitsha itself they are also many and as generous, I have no doubt, as their means allow. May the good God bless them all and reward them abundantly, and make this hospital a home of comfort for multitudes.
There are many we would like to thank individually, but space will not allow here. The list of donors will be published elsewhere, and our gratitude will be perennial. We would like to emphasise that this Hospital is for all, rich and poor, without any distinction of race or tribe or creed. All will get the best treatment that medical science and the staff can give. There will be a gradual unfolding of the complete plans and projects, always in understanding with the Ministry of Health. † Charles Heerey C.S.Sp. D.D.
A CHRISTIAN SEES MEANING IN SUFFERING
Pope John Paul II’s Message to the sick and the aged from all across the country Gathered at St Charles Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha In the afternoon of Saturday, 13 February, 1982.
I am happy to be with you this afternoon, you, the sick and the old. You are precious in the eyes of God. Your lives have a deep meaning for society and for me. My joy is all the greater because I am meeting you in this famous hospital called after St Charles Borromeo, whose name was given to me by my parents at Baptism. My predecessor Paul VI visited this place in 1962 when it was at the building stage, and he contributed to its construction. I can see the loving gesture of the Church in Onitsha in naming this hospital after St Charles Borromeo, that apostle of Milan and the patron of your first Archbishop of Onitsha, C.S.Sp., who departed this life in 1967.
- As long as we are on our earthly pilgrimage, suffering and sickness will exist. They are a part of our human condition, and ultimately they are the results of original sin, but they are not necessarily the fault of the individual. There are many people of different ages who suffer through no fault of their own. Children, in particular, are vulnerable to suffering, often caused by the thoughtlessness or negligence of adults. The reality of sickness and malnutrition in the lives of millions of children is a fact that calls for attention and action. And the condition of the retarded child makes us think about the very meaning of human life. Old age too brings own difficulties and physical weakness.
- Although God allows suffering to exist in the world, he does not enjoy it. Indeed, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, loved the sick; he devoted a great part of his earthly ministry to healing the sick and comforted the afflicted. Our God is a God of compassion and consolation. And he expects us to take the ordinary means to preventive health care programmes; we have doctors, nurses, paramedicals and medical institutions of many kinds. Medical science has made much progress. We should take advantage of all this.
- But even after all these efforts, suffering and sickness still exist. A Christian sees meaning in suffering. He bears such suffering with patience, love of God, and generosity. He offers it all to God, through Christ, especially during the Sacrifice of the Mass. When the sick person receives Holy Communion, he unites himself with Christ the Victim. When suffering is associated with Christ’s Passion and redemptive death, then it has great value for the individual, for the Church and for society. This is the meaning of those wonderful words of Saint Paul on which we must meditate over and over again: “now, I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (Col 1:24). I also know personally what it means to be sick and to stay in hospital for a long time, and how it is possible to comfort and support others who share the same lot of confinement and suffering, and how necessary it is to pray for the sick and to show them one’s loving concerning. In this connection, I am happy to note that you have in this hospital a beautiful chapel with the Blessed Sacrament reserved, and that there is a resident chaplain. Jesus himself wants to be your consolation and strength, through his Eucharistic presence and through the ministry of his priests.
- You who are advanced in age are senior citizens. You have borne the heat of the day in life’s struggle and have gathered much knowledge, wisdom and experience. Please share these generously with the younger generation. You have something very important to offer to the world; and your contribution is purified and enriched through the patience and love that are yours, when you are united with Christ. Old age slows down the body and brings weakness and sometimes sickness. Our response includes medical attention and Christian patience. In union with Christ, you are called to thank God the Father for having given you human life and having called you to live both in this world and for ever in union with Christ.
- In Nigeria, you have the beautiful culture of the extended family system. The sick and the old are not abandoned by their children, their nephews and nieces, their cousins or other kindred. The wide umbrella of charity has a roof for all. This is a precious heritage that must be maintained. The ideal is under pressure, especially in the cities, and towns where the old are sometimes cut off from the extended family. The abandonment and solitude of the old results when a great cultural value has been taken away and has been replaced by something totally un-African.
- To the doctors, the nurses, the paramedicals and others who care for the sick in Nigeria, not forgetting the various medical and nursing councils, professional and administrative, I express my esteem and gratitude. Your humanitarian concern is worthy of great praise. Your Christian charity merits everlasting life. Jesus himself made concern for the sick something on which our judgment and eternal reward depend: “Come O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for...... I was sick and you visited me” (Mtt 25:34,36).
ST CHARLES BORROMEO HOSPITAL TODAY
As the hospital celebrates fifty years of its existence, we describe the hospital as it is today by presenting the services being provided currently.
- Internal Medicine
- Cardiology (With Echocardiography)
- Nephrology (with Renal Dialysis)
- Respiratory Medicine
This department has six Consultants – one fulltime Consultant, a visiting Neurologist, a visiting Cardiologist, a visiting Nephrologist, a visiting Gastroenterologist and a visiting Respiratory Physician. There are also medical officers and other health workers in this unit. The nephrology unit oversees a busy renal dialysis centre with five modern dialysis machines.
The Cardiology unit offers 2-D Echocardiography and ECG services. (Note: All visiting Consultants have their clinic and ward-round days) This department has two well-equipped wards: 24-bedded Male Medical Ward and 22-bedded Female Medical Ward. For those who demand privacy, there is also an 11-room Private Ward.
- Neonatology/Paediatric ICU
- Sick Babies Unit
This department has two Consultants – One fulltime Consultant and one visiting Consultant. There are also medical officers and other health workers here. The department has a 21-bedded Children’s Ward which is well-equipped with resuscitation materials, 5 modern baby-incubators, a 4-bedded sick babies unit and a 10-cot phototherapy unit.
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
This department has three Consultants – two fulltime Consultants and a visiting Consultant. There are also medical officers and other health workers in this unit. The department has a 10-bedded Pre-Natal Ward, a 6-bedded Labour Ward, a 22-bedded Post-Natal Ward, all well-equipped with modern delivery and resuscitation gadgets. There are also private rooms attached to the wards. In the Theatre Complex, there is a dedicated O&G theatre room.
This department has three Consultants – one fulltime Consultant and two visiting Consultants. There are also medical officers and other health workers in this unit. The theatre is well equipped with necessary surgical and resuscitation equipment and the success rate of surgeries is quite high. The department has two well-equipped wards: 21-bedded Male Surgical Ward and 20-bedded Female Surgical Ward. There are also private rooms attached to the wards.
This unit has two Consultants – one fulltime Consultant and a visiting Consultant. There are also medical officers and other health workers in this unit. Many complicated ortho-surgeries are successfully handled in this unit. The unit uses the same wards with the General Surgery/Urology unit as described above.
Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT)
This unit has a visiting consultant. There are other health workers in this unit. Many very complicated ENT surgeries are undertaken in this unit with a very high rate of success. The unit uses the same wards with the General Surgery unit.
This unit has a visiting Consultant-Ophthalmologist, an Optometrist, an Optician and other health workers. Full-scale eye treatments and surgeries are carried out in this unit.
This unit has a fulltime Dentist, a Dental Therapist and other health workers. Full-scale dental diagnosis, treatments and surgeries are undertaken in this unit.
Accident and Emergency
This 24-hour, ever busy, unit is well-equipped to resuscitate and stabilise all emergency cases and transfer to the appropriate unit for further management, if need be. With Consultants supervising the wards, the unit has Medical Officers and other health workers who are always present to attend to emergencies of all kinds. The unit is split into an adult emergency unit and the children emergency unit. The adult emergency unit has a male and a female ward while the children emergency unit has one ward. The unit has also a theatre room and a POP room.
This unit has three physiotherapists and other health workers. With modern gadgets in place for rehabilitation both for in-patients and out-patients, the unit records a very high rate of success.
Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART)
In conjunction with Family Health International (FHI360) in their Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services (SIDHAS) programme, our hospital is a comprehensive care centre for HIV Patients. With over 8,000 registered patients, and with many awards in this area of healthcare delivery, the hospital is at the forefront of the fight against the scourge of HIV/AIDS in the country.
The hospital runs a full-scale enhanced laboratory. The laboratory is divided into different units: Haematology, Microbiology, Chemistry, Parasitology. Added to this is a special unit for ART-related investigations. The laboratory is equipped with very modern world-class machines and is run with the WHO Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure quality results. In fact, the laboratory is in the process becoming one of the few WHO accredited laboratories in the country!
- CT Scan
The very active unit of the hospital is overseen by a visiting consultant radiologist. There are three Imaging Scientists and other relevant health workers. Recently, an ultra-modern 32-slice CT Scan machine was put in place. The x-ray machine is digitised and the ultrasound scan machines are updated for optimal results.
The hospital has a central, duly registered, pharmacy that controls all the drug activities of the hospital. There is the central pharmacy and two other functional pharmacy outlets in the hospital. The activities of this unit are controlled by four pharmacists. There are also many other relevant health workers. The hospital has a very strict drug procurement policy meant to ensure that only qualitative drugs get to our patients.
Being an institution owned by the Catholic Church, the hospital has a functional chaplaincy which serves the spiritual needs of our patients and their relatives and also of workers and others. The chaplaincy has the status of a quasi-parish, and is overseen by two priest-chaplains.
The hospital currently has three functional ambulances for saving lives. These ambulances are available always to bring patients to the hospital or to transfer them to other hospitals anywhere in the country as may be needed.
The hospital mortuary was built immediately after the inception of the hospital. From then till now, the hospital mortuary has been renowned in its continued maintenance of high standards in the preservation of human remains till they are taken for interment.
- Thursday24-Hour Shift
- Sunday Mass time 5:30am, 7:15am, and 6pm.