By Ononye VC
Rev. Fr Izuu Okonkwo, the chief executive officer of St Charles Borromeo Teaching Hospital, Onitsha, is a unique personality. He is endowed with a special initiative of creativity and doggedness that have transformed into several accomplishments.
There is no doubt that the Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, the metropolitan archbishop of Onitsha, whose vision Father Okonkwo is projecting in the hospital, is reaping abundantly from the objective he (the archbishop) set to achieve for the growth of the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Anambra State and Nigeria in general.
It was a brief and wonderful outing on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, when the St Charles Borromeo Teaching Hospital management opened its ₦130m cafeteria to the public, patients and staff of the institution.
On stepping into the huge complex named after Pope John Paul II, whose intimidating statue stands in front, we went round various sections of the complex. There is a modern shopping mall on the ground floor stocked with essential commodities ranging from toiletries and beverages to other fast-moving consumer goods.
On the first floor is a well-furnished restaurant where the sweet aroma of a delicious meal greeted everyone. According to Father Okonkwo, the cafeteria initiative was part of the vision to deliver to patients of the hospital the twin package of a hospital and hospitality.
The entire complex is air conditioned, floored with polished granite. According to Father Okonkwo, it took only six months to complete the two-storey building solely funded by the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha (CADO).
Father Okonkwo gave more insight: “For the avoidance of doubt, the cafeteria is part of the Shanahan University annex that is St Charles Borromeo Teaching Hospital, Onitsha. The new Shanahan University is the only university that is taking off with a teaching hospital on ground.”
Shanahan University, he said, has gotten accreditation for all branches of medical delivery with experts on board.
“At the enormous extent of its development, the Borromeo Teaching Hospital has grown to be a huge place of medical tourism which has hosted many world personalities, which included St Pope Paul VI and St John Paul II.”
While the event lasted, Father Okonkwo and the management hosted over 100 antenatal patients inside the restaurant where he apprised them of the importance of the new restaurant, which was basically built for their welfare and for others who want decent meals at a subsidised cost.
He said to them: “We want to transform the hospital to look like homes so that no one goes to the hospital and feels different. You can request the type of food you want and it is cooked for you.”
Father Okonkwo disclosed that in addition to other facilities, the hospital dispenses 21 thousand gallons of water daily for efficient running and a clean environment and also renders affordable services in all sections of the hospital.
On the topic of foreign assistance, he disclosed that new complexes for various departments are being sponsored by the Hungarian government, adding that more than 150 free neurosurgeries have been successfully done on patients by the expatriates.
The highlight of the occasion was the entertainment of antenatal patients with free delicious meals. The event ended with a reminder from Father Okonkwo to the visitors and patients alike of the hospital management’s mantra, that their uppermost desire is taking care of the patients and other people from “the womb to the tomb”.