A frontline health worker’s tale of prioritizing COVID-19 care

A frontline health worker’s tale of prioritizing COVID-19 care

Name of health worker: Kityo Fred Chebet

Occupation: Assistant Nursing Officer

Hoima Regional Referral Hospital

A frontline health worker’s tale of prioritizing COVID-19 care

When my name appeared on the list pinned on the notice board of health workers to be trained on the infection prevention and control (IPC) and COVID19 guidelines, I was so excited. The training was full of chatting, laughter as we commented on little mistakes made of “donning” and “dotting” of protective wear.

My turn to be a COVID-19 frontline health worker came in August 2020. I felt bold enough to care for the COVID19 patients, but there was fear of its risk to my family. Working at the COVID-19 Treatment Unit (CTU) went on fairly well despite the fact that we had to work longer hours due to shortage of staff. The staff available to care for the COVID19 patients were few, yet the patients needed multi-disciplinary and holistic care. This limited our multi-disciplinary or holistic care to patients who really needed it and the rest were catered to the extent of their basic needs. At the moment, more staff are being equipped with knowledge on COVID19 to increase the human resource in the CTU.

When community transmission started, most of the COVID19 suspects who turned positive were motorcyclists (boda boda). Approaching these patients who were admitted at the CTU was difficult because they were asymptomatic and it was hard convincing them that they were had COVID19. The patients were violent towards staff and used harsh words. Noticing this, we engaged social workers and counsellors so as to make them understand the public threat that COVID-19 poses and accept their conditions.

The few patients who presented with severe respiratory symptoms were referred to higher levels. Since there was no provision for accommodation those who worked in the CTU, we freely mixed with other staff members after work which brought the burden of community stigma. This stigma needs to be addressed by conducting more sensitization on COVID-19 prevention measures, attitude change towards COVID19 recovered patients and frontline health workers and new guidelines from the Ministry of Health disseminated to staff through different platforms. In addition, there might be a need to lobby for more funding including so as to address the shortage of resources inform of PPEs