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Entebbe hospital struggling with limited space for Covid-19 cases

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital is currently constrained by limited space for the high number of patients with coronavirus disease-COVID-19.

The hospital with a total capacity of 200 beds has 153 patients and 15 suspects. 7 of the patients are in the Intensive Care Unit-ICU.

The hospital however has to keep on standby for new cases from across the country especially Nwoya, Kitgum among others because Gulu hospital with over 120 patients is no longer admitting new cases.

On Tuesday, Gulu hospital refused to admit  24 Covid-19 patients from Kitgum district because it’s treatment centre initially with 40 beds now has 123 patients.

Gulu hospital is grappling with limited space and stock out of azithromycin, zinc and Vitamin C drugs for treating Covid-19 patients.

Sr. Roselyn Walimbwa, Entebbe hospital principal nursing officer and also head of welfare says that the hospital is also struggling with limited space amidst the increasing number of cases.

Uganda has confirmed over 5,000 cases and over 50 deaths since March when the pandemic broke out.

“Though we have limited space, no patient is sleeping on the floor because we have added over 23 beds in the two wards for confirmed cases,” Walimbwa says.

She says the hospital however has adequate drugs for the patients.

More sanitisers are needed for effective disinfection at the hospital.

Walimbwa adds that the big number is also piling pressure on the 130 workers at the hospital. They include security officers, surveillance officers and frontline staff such as doctors, nurses and hygienists.

Close to a hundred health workers have to sleep at the hospital to limit exposure to the community and also for easy deployment and monitoring within the hospital.

She explains that the increasing number of patients and suspects has however made management add more beds where staff reside.

“But we need at least 30 more staff and also 50 beds and 50 mattresses to ensure effective patient care and welfare of workers at the hospital,” Walimbwa says.

She adds that though the patients in ICU are in critical condition, health workers make between eight to ten checks a day to limit exposure to COVID-19.

Normally, a dedicated team of health workers and staff are deployed 24/7 at the ICU for constant checks and treatment of patients.

But each frontline worker can only take a maximum of an hour in the ICU and wards for confirmed patients and suspects.

Walimbwa says, “So we need more staff so that we can monitor the critically ill more than we are doing right now.”

The Principal Hospital Administrator, Muhammad Mubiru, says the recent installation of ten more ICU beds at the hospital was timely.

Entebbe Hospital is among the 13 regional referral hospitals that have received ten ICU beds each from the ministry of health.

The hospital previously had only 3 ICU beds before getting an additional ten beds from the ministry of health.

The ten ICU beds were brought to the hospital two weeks ago and have been installed at the maternity and private wards that are currently earmarked for only COVID-19 patients and suspects.

Initially, the ICU section had three respirators, three dialysis machines, five monitors and one oxygen cylinder which apparently one patient could consume in a day.

With the additional ten beds,  Mubiru says the hospital is able to handle those in need of critical care.

He says that the hospital however needs to recruit the required human resource such as biomedical engineers for the new ICU beds.

Entebbe hospital was in a similar situation in June when it had 130 patients and stopped admitting new cases due to space constraints.

Meanwhile, health experts are concerned that people are disregarding the anti-COVID-19 measures during the electoral process.

The electoral primaries for the National Resistance Movement-NRM in Entebbe for the LCV, LC IV leaders have been on the spotlight for both violence and failure by voters and candidates to observe the stipulated measures.

However, Paul Zikuliza, the chairperson LC1 Lugonjo-Nakiwogo says it is difficult to enforce the guidelines because there is limit to how far you can police adults.

Zikuliza, a member of NRM says the local leaders are trying their best to ensure voters wash hands and also wear face masks.

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