Sacred Heart Hospital, Abeokuta - a brief history.
In the beginning at Itesi:
With the arrival of the first Catholic Missionary Priests (S.M.A Fathers) in Abeokuta on the 29th of June 1880 (feast of Ss. Peter and Paul) and then the first Catholic Missionary Sisters (O.L.A Sisters) on the 3rd of March 1886, Catholic faith began to spread. Concurrently, health care delivery was started by the Missionaries who attended to the medical needs of the people (especially children) in the Mission house at Itesi and in the peoples' homes. Rev. Fr. Francois S.M.A, Rev. Fr. Jean Marie Coquard S.M.A (later made a chief by Oba Ladapo Ademola with the title of BAASEGUN OF EGBA) and Rev. Sr. Maria Assumpta O.L.A were the vanguards. In this regard Rev. Sr. Assumpta's name appears in the Nigeria History of Community Health Care as "The First Health Visitor in Nigeria"(1).
Officially, the Sacred Heart Hospital that was founded as a result of this effort is dated to have been established in 1895. Then temporary buildings were used until on the 14th of October 1904 when the foundation of the main Hospital building was laid at Itesi, Abeokuta. The building was completed and the Sacred Heart Hospital, Abeokuta, was officially opened on the 4th of May 1914. It is the oldest Hospital in Nigeria outside Lagos.
Relocation to Lantoro:
In 1957 Rev. Sr. Consolata Murphy O.L.A., completed the building of the new and larger Maternity, Ante-Natal, Post Natal, and Nursery Wards in the Hospital's newly acquired land in Lantoro. In 1959 Dr. Oswald Madecki was employed by the Catholic Mission. He worked tirelessly for the growth of the Hospital. Of special note is his immense contributions to the building of the Children's, Medical, Surgical Wards, Theatre, and the Out Patient Department in the Lantoro site of the Hospital from 1965 to 1970. The Sacred Heart Hospital, Abeokuta fully moved from Itesi (because of lack of space) to its present site at Lantoro in 1970. The Itesi site is now used as hostel for the Student Nurses.
General Hospital services:
The Hospital provides general medical services including OPD, Mother and child clinic, admissions, internal medicine, Laboratory investigations, Xray, Scan, Surgery, with a well-stocked Pharmacy.
From those early years, the Sacred Heart Hospital has continued "to assist in the healing ministry according to the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ". Various landmarks were reached along the way. On the 15th of July 1897 the Leprosarium built by Frs. Francois S.M.A and Coquard S.M.A was opened for use of lepers.
On the 7th of January 1950 Sacred Heart Hospital's health care delivery was further enhanced by the commencement of the training of Nigerians as Midwives in the Hospital's School of Midwifery. It started as a Grade Two Midwifery Training School and was upgraded to a Grade One Midwifery School in September 1957.
In 1998 approval was given by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria for the Hospital to change from the basic Midwifery Training programme to the General Nursing programme. This was in line with the policy on Nursing education in Nigeria for Nursing students to start first with General Nursing before proceeding for post basic midwifery. The first set of General Nursing students in the Hospital's School of Nursing started their course in the Hospital on the 20th of October 1998.
Chest Diseases Specialist Unit:
In 1981, the building of the Hospital's chest specialist unit was commenced, and was officially opened on the 28th February, 1986. This Unit was established under the belief that chest disease, especially Tuberculosis, abound on the West Coast of Africa and with no specialist hospital to cater for the needs of these patients majority of whom are very poor. Through the foresight of Dr. Oswald Madecki and the assistance of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (the current Nigerian President), the Specialist Unit site was acquired from the Ogun State Government. Donations for the construction of the project was obtained, through the effort of Dr. Madecki, from the Catholic Mission, West Germany, and from members of the local community in Nigeria.
General Medical Practice Programme:
The Hospital was approved in 1985 to run the General Medical Practice Programme for Doctors and has since then been assisting in the training of General Medical Practitioners in Nigeria.
Pharmacists Internship Training:
The Hospital is one of the approved centres in Nigeria that helps in providing further training to Pharmacists during a one year period of internship.
Medical Internship Training:
In addition to being a centre for the training of General Medical Practitioners, the Hospital is also an approved centre in Nigeria that helps in providing further training to Doctors during their one year period of Housemanship.
Activities and Statistics:
All in all, the Sacred Heart Hospital has undergone much development while it continues to serve the people. It now consists of a General Hospital with over 300 beds where specialists work, a separate unit for Tuberculosis patients with 120 beds, a Dental Clinic and an Eye Clinic. In 1998 alone about 11,000 in-patients and 87,000 out-patients were treated at the Hospital.
The Sacred Heart Hospital, a Missionary not-for-profit institution, has through the years been assisted by both local and overseas donors too numerous to list here. The Hospital has also benefitted in every way from the assistance of organisations like the Medical Mission Institute, Wurzburg Germany (since 1932), Missereor, and a host of others.
A heart (the Sacred Heart) which encompases the Hospital's name and the medical institutions' symbol in the middle, positioned on an equilateral triangle. This symbolises the continued assistance on the Hospital of the Blessed Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit
1. Manuwa S: In History of Nigerian Health Services, Edited by Schram R. 1st Edition pg. xii-xxi. Ibadan University Press (1971)