We are committed to making LASUTH functional – Taiwo Ogunsola

AS part of its commitment towards assisting the Lagos State government to provide quality health care delivery services, the management of TOS Funerals recently donated 18 Intensive Care Unit, ICU, beds to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH. In this interview with Sola Ogundipe, the CEO/Managing Director of the facility, Mrs Taiwo Ogunsola, explained that the gesture was in remembrance of her late husband, Mr Lekan Ogunsola, who passed away 15 years ago.

Ogunsola speaks about the importance of commitment and the unrelenting resolve of TOS Funerals to help cater for the needs of the living as much as the dead. Excerpts: Cross section of 18 Intensive Care Unit beds donated to LASUTH by TOS Funerals recently.

My husband passed away on April 10, 2003. We started this business together and want to remember him 15 years after his death by giving something good. One day I went to the surgical emergency at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, and I saw that people are really suffering because there are not enough beds in the hospital. We know the Governor is doing his best but we thought of giving something back as our own Corporate Social Responsibility. We want to remember my husband by giving something that would be useful to the hospital.

The family sat down and decided to give 50 Intensive Care Unit, ICU, beds. The donation is going to be done in phases. We are starting with these 18. These intensive care unit beds are multipurpose. They can be used as for positioning the patient, measuring their weight and doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR; the beds can go to the theatre, and would make the patient comfortable at all times.” High import duty I purchased the beds in the US from the manufacturers. I spoke to them about my intentions and as such got the beds at 40 percent discount, however, when we got to the ports in Nigeria, the duty was exorbitant, and even though I spoke to Customs, they said there was nothing they could do about it.

Even when I said I’m giving out these beds, they would not listen. I had to pay an up to three times the cost of the beds as duty. It was rather disappointing. The challenge is now what happens when we are bringing the remaining beds because the duty being charged on them is too high. We have spoken to the Lagos State government to intervene in obtaining concession on the duty from the Federal government so that the remaining beds could be brought in. Nevertheless, we are determined as a family that we have to do this. It is a must do for us. Lekan would be happy in the grave that we are doing this because he spent his last kobo helping people. I want to help people not by giving them money, I want something that would be there from generation to generation, that is why the phase 2 of our charity in October would be something better than this. I’m picking the wards the beds would be placed in and there will be a technician that will be visiting the wards for maintenance of the beds over the next five years.

I’m planning with some of my friends to come together for a project that I’m tagging “Friends of LASUTH. We are about 10 in number now. We are trying to bring everybody contributing money into a common purse We would start the contribution and keep the money in one bank and at the end of every year, we would come back to LASUTH and ask them what they need and do it for them from our purse. I’m a partner with LASUTH but I’ve traveled out. I’ve seen what other people do in their environment outside Nigeria. It’s not always about government alone. I’m a product of Mayflower School. We do not always ask what the system can do for us, we ask the system what we what we can do for the system. I’m the one to give back to the system. I don’t know who will sleep on these beds, but I’m certain whoever they are, they would be comfortable and appreciate their being available here. Need for commitment Going into this kind of venture requires commitment. It’s all about commitment, not wealth.

I’m a Board member of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians in America and my President would always tell me that everything is about commitment, commitment, commitment. Let’s be committed to the system. We need to commit ourselves to certain things. I do not have money now, but if I am going to spend my last kobo to make sure I finish all the projects I have lined up for this year, I’ll gladly do it. I won’t borrow money but I won’t have savings either, however it is better for me that way. If we can have 2-3 people doing this, things would certainly work out very well in LASUTH. I’m not expecting the system to say thank you.”