DARENT VALLEY HOSPITAL, ENGLAND: A Quintessence of Excellence In Health Care-Giving - By 'Tunji Ajayi

DARENT VALLEY HOSPITAL, ENGLAND: A Quintessence of Excellence In Health Care-Giving

By 'Tunji Ajayi

(A Voice from the Garden of England)

In “When the Malnourished Breastfeed” (Nigerian Tribune, Sept. 9, 1996) I wrote about good health as one of the pivots to national growth. The reason is that there is nothing called a prosperous nation without healthy citizenry, whose elected representatives pilot the affairs of that nation, and who themselves must be healthy. And for a healthy nation and the people, the roles of the Hospitals and their health-care givers cannot be undermined. Consequently, it is not superfluous to assert that no good health infrastructure, powered by well motivated care-givers, no prosperous nation. Thus, the aphorism “health is wealth” remains incontrovertible. Indeed, the desire to seek good healthy living started from the time immemorial. The great King Saul of Israel was very sick. He lost thinking ability to run the affairs of his domain. All his influence and affluence and magisterial carriage momentarily became of secondary importance. He was frantically searching for good physicians to cure him of what looked like “delirium tremens”, a disease of the mind. (1 Sam 16:14-23) Indeed, the great teacher Jesus Christ attested to the veracity of the claim that man’s search for good health is not a grandiose chase when he confirmed that a person in debilitating health state needs a physician. (Mat 9:12). All this shows the importance of mental and physical health care to a serious nation that truly desires growth. This is so because regardless of a nation’s monstrous wealth and physical infrastructure, it is the healthy people that will drive them to achieve desired purposes. Consequently, I have always averred that only well-motivated healthy people lend vitality to any institution, and indeed any nation.

The reggae music maestro Jimmy Cliff in one of his epic albums says “everyman thinks his burden is the heaviest; . . . they know how they feel.” He concluded: “Who feels it knows it Lord.” A perspicacious journalist and writer as “eyes & ears of the society”, owes the society the sacred duty of sharing his experience to inform, educate and entertain the society.  More so, like the great English Writer James Morton would say: “Free minds and free lips are necessary so that men may grow and learn.” Indeed the famous scholar and communicator Frederick Whitney added one more to a writer’s roles - “surveillance of the environment”.  I recently benefited from the excellence and magnificence of one of the best hospitals I have ever come across during my visit to England recently. Founded in the year 2000 Darent Valley Hospital is powered by Dartford and Gravesham National Health Service Trust. The lavishly equipped Hospital which is a beauty to behold; ab initio comprised 478 beds but has since enjoyed massive upgrade and infrastructural development since inception. Conspicuously and elegantly located in Darenth Wood Road, Dartford, Kent, England, the exquisitely beautiful architectural masterpiece is a district general hospital by status – an incredible and amazing information leaving this writer so benumbed. “How could this impressively magnificent edifice be of just a district general hospital status”? I kept pondering and wondering.  To have invested in such massively built structure purposely for health care explains the British government’s passion for human welfare and unfettered love for the general welfare of the British citizens and other people, especially in the locality. Ancillary facilities and services are made available at the beautiful entrance which includes restaurants, sales stores for patients’ sundry needs, as well as fully-stocked pharmacy stores. The expansive parking slots at the entrance facilitate the parking of visitors and patients vehicles.

The real feel of the Hospital’s love for the health and welfare of the people starts right from the main reception. I personally noticed the grand display of empathy at its zenith point. The undisguised desire to safe lives is eminently explained by the prompt response of the emergency department, administered by the courteous and humane staff. The application of “ergonomics” in office administration is not only noticed in the space economy, as the reception staff offices are so proximal to incoming out-patients on emergencies, ostensibly to receive most-needed attention prior documentation and profiling.         

Affiliated to King’s College, London, the exquisitely beautiful Hospital truly and genuinely places high premium on the well-being of the patients, while keeping to her sacred promise that: “quality of care and patients experience is our priority”.  As an observer and beneficiary of her magnanimity and supreme competence, I witnessed and had a large dose of consistent attention of the empathetic medical doctors as well as sympathetic nurses and highly committed allied workers. With soothing voices and loving tones of empathy, patients do enjoy the nurses and paramedics asking each morning at their respective bedsides “How is your health today?” “Did you sleep well?” “Hope you feel no pain?” “Any issues of concern?” etc., thus conveying the deep and undisguised feelings of empathy and sympathy; and  transmuting patients’ crushing pain to gain as some care-givers tell thrilling stories of how being on hospital bed is not bizarre, but often an opportunity to examine and deal with perennial health issues once and for all.  Their respective professional skills to placate depleted souls, and show unfettered love are deployed to the fullest.

Stressing the importance of soothing words, the Holy Scripture speaks: “The calmness of the tongue is a tree of life, but distortion in it means a breaking down in the spirit.” (Prov. 15:4) (NWT).Thus, if the tongue, being “a tree of life”, when used positively can heal the pain then, indiscrete application of the tongue can worsen the already debilitating health of an ailing person. Darent Valley Hospital doctors and nursing staff are not oblivious, but very kind in this respect.

Prompt delivery of salubrious meals is crucial to fast recovery of an ailing patient. If foods refuel and rehydrate the convoluted body chemistry, then it must be tailored to the exact need of an ailing patient. Indeed, while writing on the importance of appropriate food intakes of ailing patients, a professor of nutritional immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, United Kingdom, Philip Calder wrote: “During recovery, you have to add the protein back. This provides the building blocks your body needs to go about its business . . . particularly for those who have been immobile in a hospital bed.” Darent Valley Hospital prides herself in serving their patients health-giving nutritional meals always at the prompt time without failure. This is amazing! The lunch and upper menu comprising varieties of desserts and provided for every patient to make choices from, prior each meal.

The hospital Wards are ravishingly neat with decent beddings and toilet facilities made available for comfort.  Dietitians come into the hospital wards prior each meal time to take orders for each patient’s requirements – the breakfast, launch, and dinner are regular. Yet, serving first courses never fails. Tea, coffee, chocolate, juice, ice-cream of different flavors are served. Good and decent environment impacts on healthy living.  Darent Valley Hospital is not oblivious of this salient fact. The toilets are kept refreshingly clean all the time and deodorized.

Convalescing is a great and wonderful experience at Darent Valley Hospital where patients relax either watching movies on television or enjoying programs of their choice on radio provided for each bed space and equipped with gadgets for private listening. This dissipates boredom of being on bed. Telephone facility is attached on each bed, while patient may also communicate through the internet using WiFi. What a reliable Hospital being run on hi-tech equipment and modern facilities. This writer was amazed sighting some of the latest sophisticated hi-tech hospital equipment - from multi-million dollar Computer-on-Wheel Digital Blood Pressure Monitor,  Computer Tomography (CT) Scan and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scanners, etc that facilitate prompt screening for disease and injury identification in the body regions.  .

According to Koontz O’Donnel, et.al, “management involves the use of both human and material resources to achieve the objectives of the organization, which vary from one organization to another. Whether we are operating a financial institution, a grocery store, a poultry farm, or a musical troupe, the essentials of managing are the same; and they are woven around the basic functions of a manager, viz.: leading, controlling, planning, organizing, and staffing.” From my close observation and unforgettable personal experience Darent Valley Hospital is one of the best run organizations I have seen using human and material resources maximally to achieve the needed goals of the hospital and health care provision. The office administration department latching on the  IT are also well equipped with the latest digitalized office equipment with computerization providing an interface with other units,  sections and departments all manned by highly motivated  and desirous staff, working with common purpose – viz:  to provide high qualitative health care services for humanity and save lives.

Like the Swiss educational reformer, Johann Pestalozzi would say: “He who bears the interests of humanity in his breast is richly blessed. May Darent Valley Hospital, Dartford, Kent, the quintessence of excellence, continue to be blessed for fulfilling her promise of caring with compassion, combining respect and dignity, while stressing to excel in professional standards as they work together in unity for the welfare of the society. What a compassionate hospital that offers to drive home her patients in pleasure cars after being discharged on hospital beds! Seeing is believing.  But when a matter needs no further circumstantial evidences to corroborate claims, lawyers chant “Res-Ipsa Loquitor” because the matter evidently speaks for itself.  

The bottom-line? Nigeria really needs to wake up fast on the provision of impactful health care services and infrastructure for the people.  President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has a herculean task in this respect.  For it seems Nigeria has not even begun the long journey towards liberating the nation from the prison of poverty of good health care and infrastructure. This is causing anguish, crushing pain, sorrow and tears and avoidable deaths. Like the music maestro Lucky Dube in his album: Prison:  “I looked all around me; and see nothing but four grey walls staring at me. The policeman said to me, son ‘They won't build no schools anymore. All they'll build will be prison, prison. I am a prisoner. They won't build no schools anymore. They won't build no hospitals.  All they’ll build will be prison, prison. I am a prisoner”.  Nigerians have been “Prisoners” of decrepit and moribund systems far too long. They need good health services. They need good education. They need no Prisons. They need Hospitals. Verbum Satis Sapienti

*Tunji Ajayi, a creative writer, author and documentary producer writes this piece from London,

England  (WhatsApp: +2348033203115, +2349070002004)

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Tunji Ajayi - a creative writer, author and biographer writes from Lagos, Nigeria

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