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Patients overwhelm Mbale regional referral hospital

Patients await treatment at Mbale hospital.

Mbale, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Mbale Regional Referral Hospital is choking from the overwhelming number of patients turning up for treatment. The most affected are the outpatient department-OPD, the pediatrics, the obstetrics and gynecology, and the casualty wards.

Several patients receiving treatment in the casualty ward sleep on the verandah due to lack of space. In the children’s ward, many patients sleep on the waiting benches. Our reporter visited the children’s ward on Tuesday and saw between two to four children sharing beds depending on their size.

A patient who only Identified himself as Kadyama from Budaka district and his wife told URN that they had spent three days at the casualty ward. They said from the time they arrived, they have been receiving treatment from the waiting bench and sleeping in the cold due to lack of space.

“When we arrived here, one of the nurses told us to sit on the concrete bench. We have been sleeping here for the last three days and this is where a blood transfusion of two units now has been done on me. We have had to endure the coldness just to access the treatment and it is not only us, all people you see here have been sleeping here,” Kadyama said.

Mbale Regional Referral Hospital has a capacity of 400-beds. However, there are currently more than 500 patients in the facility. Dr. Emmanuel Tugaineyo, the Director of Mbale Regional Referral Hospital told URN the huge number of patients is straining the available workforce, especially the nurses who attend to the patients. He says that the majority of the nurses suffer back pain as a result of the heavy workload, which calls for additional manpower.

He says that the obstetrics and gynecology departments are among the busiest where patients share beds due to space problems. Dr. Tugaineyo says that the problem of space will only be resolved when the surgical complex, which is under construction is completed. The complex will create space for an additional 200 beds.

Magdalene Kokor, the Principal Nursing Officer at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital says they only have 169 nurses who run 34 units against the required 200 nurses. She explains that currently, over 20 out of the 169 nurses are on sick leave because of the back pain sustained as a result of the heavy workload.

The pediatric department admits between 1,000 and 1,500 critically ill children per month in need of emergency care. The department loses between 35 to 45 children in a month, which translates into one to two deaths every day.

Dr. Joan Wamulugwa, the acting in charge of the pediatric department says that the congestion in the hospital is terrifying. He says that the available health workers are not enough to handle the huge volume of patients.

Dr. Kenneth Mugabe, the head of the obstetrics and gynecology department, says that only three specialists are available in the department and they lack a senior consultant, which affects decision making. Dr. Mugabe says that the only way the numbers at the Mbale Referral Hospital can be managed is by improving and streamlining the service delivered at the lower health facilities, especially at the district hospitals and health center IVs.



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