The Healthcare system in the Western Region, like in other parts of the country, has over the years been beset with challenges relating to the referral of patients, especially with inter-hospital transfers. The situation is largely attributable to lack of effective communication and coordination between facilities and the challenges in arranging for transportation of patients, even in the current situation where the number of ambulances in the country has tremendously improved. This has often resulted in preventable deaths and client dissatisfaction with the system.
In order to resolve some of these bottlenecks, the Regional Health Directorate at a retreat in February tasked all facilities in the region to come up with strategies to improve on the referral system.
The Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital as the main referral facility in the region has set up a Referral Call Center equipped with gadgets for receiving, recording and transmitting calls between referring facilities and the various receiving units within the Hospital to help address the problem.
Work on the Center started in March and was completed in June. A number of healthcare providers including nurses and paramedical staff have been trained to man the center on rotational basis.
The main role of the Center is to receive calls from all referring facilities and transmit them to the Units or Departments that are to see the patients or the specialists concerned around the clock. The Center will also serve as a point for scheduling appointments for clients who want to see specialists in the hospital as well as serve as a link between the hospital and the National Ambulance Service which transports referred patients.
The Center has been set up in conjunction with the ENRH Bed Management Team to eliminate the ‘no bed’ syndrome which usually occurs during referrals.
In order to eliminate call charges, ENRH has acquired a toll –free number which works on all mobile phone networks operating in the country. The toll – free line to the center is 0800161616. Other lines to the center are: 0207333306 & 0593970442.
In a circular co-signed by the Medical Director of ENRH and the Regional Director of Health Services, referring facilities are encouraged to stick to the agreed rules for referrals. These are:
All referrals should be channeled through the center.
All Hospitals should route referrals through their respective facility or district referral managers.