Entebbe Hospital struggling with limited space for COVID-19 patients

Uganda's Mulago and Entebbe hospital ICUs full of COVID-19 patients
COVID-19 patient receives treatment.

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital is currently struggling with space constraints in the ward for COVID-19 patients.

When the hospital reopened to the general public last month, its management ring-fenced the private medical wing for COVID-19 patients and suspects. The private medical wing has a total of 50 beds.

However, according to Muhammad Mubiru, the principal hospital administrator, due to social distancing requirements, the private wing is full. The hospital currently has 45 COVID-19 patients. 15 of these are critically ill and thereby in need of oxygen full time.

Since there are only 25 medics handling the COVID-19 suspects and patients, Mubiru says the facility cannot admit any more cases.

As a result, he says new cases and those who are critically ill are being referred to Mulago National Specialised Hospital. Mulago Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit with a total of 27 beds is also currently full. So both hospitals are grappling with space for critical COVID-19 patients.

Mubiru says that there is need to add more staff such as critical care nurses to the COVID-19 management team when the COVID-19 patients and suspects are transferred to the National Isolation Centre located in Manyago.

He says that amidst the space constraint at the hospital, the hospital cannot lock out the public like it did for over one year in order to focus on COVID-19 management. “We are a regional referral hospital and we have the mandate to serve the community. We are expected to serve at least 3 million people from Mukono, Butambala, Kalangala, Wakiso and Mpigi,” says Mubiru.

Mubiru adds, “So we have agreed with the ministry of health to handle both the general public and the COVID-19 cases in the facility for the meantime.”

He explains further that it is difficult to transfer the COVID-19 patients before the housing block for medics has been constructed at the national isolation centre. “We need the medics to reside there for effective infection control,” adds Mubiru.

The national isolation centre, less than 2 kilometres from Entebbe Hospital has been undergoing renovation since October 2019 and is expected to be re-opened by end of this month.

Eng. George Otim, Commissioner Health Infrastructure at the health ministry says the contractor (BMK Uganda Ltd) is left with remodeling the former Tuberculosis ward into a staff housing block and also floor works and painting for the rest of the medical structures.

The isolation cente is expected to have an installed bed capacity of 100 beds.

As the hospital grapples with limited space for COVID-19 patients, the facility is also getting pressure due to increasing number of outpatients.

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As a result, the hospital has designated 25 staff to handle COVID-19 suspects and confirmed cases. These include a physician, nurses and hygienists.

The COVID-19 management team initially had 120 staff who also included the medics and security officers when the hospital was closed to the general public for over one year. 50 of these staff would reside inside the hospital to monitor the cases. Also, ministry of health used to provide meals for the entire team and patients.

However, when the hospital re-opened last month, Mubiru says the government is providing food to only COVID-19 patients. As a result, the team though smaller now, have to feed themselves and therefore work in shifts to ensure they eat and also rest adequately.

Mubiru says the hospital is trying its best to utilise the 25 staff for the COVID-19 ward so that the remaining 105 staff handle the general public.