THE Goroka Hospital is like a sick patient now and will need medication to recover.
The new chairman of the Eastern Highlands Provincial Health Authority Board Mal Kela Smith uttered this as a prelude to his address during the inauguration of new membership to the board in Goroka on Wednesday.
Mr Smith said: "Goroka Hospital should be a place where the sick get cured and walk out free of diseases and ailments and should not be a place where death bodies are produced."
He conceded that the facilities and medical equipment are aging and need urgent replacement.
"As the new chairman I will ensure that remarkable changes take place at the institution within the next 12 months," said the former governor.
Nine newly-appointed board members were formally sworn into office on Wednesday by a senior magistrate and witnessed by some 300 hospital staff including deputy health secretary Elva Lionel, chairman Nursing Council and Standards Peter Pindan, Doctors' Association's representatives Dr James Naipowa and Dr Goa Tau.
Also present were Goroka Hospital's Director Corporate Services Michael Singi and Director Public Health Dr Max Manape.
Professional accountant and businessman Joshua Soso has taken oath as the deputy chairman.
Mr Soso represents business houses and the Goroka urban community on the board. Provincial Disease Controller Jackson Apo represents the public servants while Kainantu-based entrepreneur Tau Amevo is representing the province's eight districts plus rural communities.
The rest are Nina Giheno jnr (Non Governmental Organisations), Japalis Kaiok (Church Health Services) and businesswoman Miriam Layton is standing in for the women's groups.
Ms Lional is also on the board as the health department's representative plus Elijah Gomai as the local community's mouthpiece.
Acting Chief Executive Officer (EHPHA) Dr Leonard Numu Kaupa said serving the 670,000 people with medical services is "very important thus the board, the administration, the workforce plus all stakeholders should leave aside their differences and work together in a spirit of unity at all times."
Dr Kaupa said the recent impasse involving the Goroka Hospital staff and the former EHPHA Board was a blessing in disguise, which placed the institution in a better position to benefit from tangible developments in due course.
Goroka MP Bire Kimisopa has thanked Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and Health Minister Michael Malabag for ensuring that the EHPHA has a new board to execute its roles and responsibilities effectively.
"I am confident that the new board will strive to bring health services in the province, especially the Goroka hospital, back on track," Mr Kimisopa said.
A staff representative said: "The dust has finally settled and they are looking forward to serving the people."
Also on the same day, the caretaker administrator of the EHPHA Ken Wai has formally relinquished powers to Mr Smith and his board to take on from there.
The protracted controversial situation at the hospital began two years back as the workforce staged a series of strikes and sit-in protest over "unfair distribution of nurses/doctors awards and lack of proper medical equipment and facilities at the hospital.