The facility had initially earmarked a team of 20 core staff who had previously worked in management of infectious diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Ebola, for its COVID-19 response and management. However, six of them were away on study leave, while eight said they were either vulnerable or unwilling to work.
Medical staff at Entebbe, Regional Referral Hospital are now more confident in handling coronavirus disease-COVID-19 patients after more than three months on the job.
The facility has handled over 170 patients since Saturday, March 21, when the first case of COVID-19 was announced. Of these, at least 104 have been discharged from the facility after testing negative for COVID-19, in subsequent tests. The latest group of 47 was discharged on Monday after successfully recovering from the respiratory illness.
The facility had initially earmarked a team of 20 core staff who had previously worked in the management of infectious diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Ebola, for its COVID-19 response and management. However, six of them were away on study leave, while eight said they were either vulnerable or unwilling to work.
The team of six who remained at work included Dr Chris Nsereko, the physician, Dr Andrew Menya, a medical officer and Sr Roslyn Walimbwa, the Principal Nursing Officer. It also had a laboratory technician and two hygienists; Enoch Shiloba and Edward Luboyera. Entebbe Hospital Director Dr Moses Muwanga says that the team had a terrifying experience while dealing with Uganda's index case.
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Before the outbreak of COVID-19, Entebbe Hospital used to provide maternal, dental, and outpatient services to a population of one million from the areas of Entebbe, Katabi town council and the Island districts of Kalangala and Buvuma. The facility had about 70 patients admitted in various wards at the time the first case was recorded.
But all those patient, except for one expectant woman, ran away from the hospital fearing that they might contract COVID-19, according to Entebbe Hospital Principal Nursing Officer Sr Roslyn Walimbwa.
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On March 31, with an increase in the number of cases, the Hospital management shutdown all departments to concentrate on COVID-19 management. This move reduced pressure on hospital staff to continue serving the public. However, Walimbwa says hospital staff got scared because of the high infection rates among health workers in developed countries like the USA, Italy and the United Kingdom.
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Walimbwa however, says staff started gaining confidence after they all tested negative in the first two weeks and thereafter when the patients started testing negative.
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During the three months, Walimbwa says some staff have requested to return to work, while some were recalled due to the surging number of patients at the hospital. As of now, the facility has 94 workers, up from 57 who were willing to work by the end of April. The workers include medical staff and security officers, among others.
Dr Chris Nsereko, a physician and head of the COVID-19 medical team at the hospital, however, says that it was unethical for health workers to run away. He says the hospital management built confidence among staff by training at least 50 workers and 30 volunteers during the preparatory stage on COVID-19 management in January and February.
Nsereko says, “We even had drills and so when Uganda had a positive case, we now had to follow procedures on how to handle patients and suspects and most importantly, infection control within the hospital. However, he says, it is risky to force people to also work during an epidemic.
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Muwanga has thereby lauded all hospital workers for overcoming the fear while taking precautionary measures to stay safe while managing suspects and patients