Name of health worker: Kwesiga Bashiru
Hoima Regional Referral Hospital
A Nurse’s ordeal of evacuating a critically ill COVID-19 suspect from one hospital to another without equipment in the ambulance
As a nurse at the COVID-19 Treatment unit (CTU), I was responsible for the evacuation of COVID19 patients. The first patient that I evacuated was from the medical ward to the CTU. This patient was a COVID19 suspect and because of stigma, he had been neglected. Even the staff there feared to work on him.
When we reached the CTU, there was no critical care equipment like oxygen, monitors, but we admitted the patient in the unit and started resuscitating him. The patient needed oxygen and close monitoring unfortunately, we had only one monitor that was being used on another patient thus putting us in a tough situation. To make it worse, the results took a long time to be brought and the patient’s condition continued deteriorating. We made a decision to refer the patient to Entebbe B Grade hospital for further management.
During the preparations to take the patient, I realized that the ambulance had nothing in it except a broken stretcher, BP machine, pulse oximeter which had all been borrowed. As an evacuating nurse, the process was so hard for me. Additionally, travelling with donned PPE from Hoima Regional Referral Hospital to Entebbe was quite uncomfortable and the patient was saturating below 60% room air. When we reached Entebbe Grade B hospital, we were instructed to go to Kiruddu hospital because we had not communicated prior to our arrival about the bringing of the COVID19 suspect. With the driver so exhausted and patient unconscious, the patient’s relative became so anxious and started screaming that his relative had died and that’s why Entebbe Grade B hospital had refused to accept him. I had to counsel the relative so they can calm down.
To address these challenges, I improved my critical care and emergency skills by researching for more information, knowledge and reading them to patients too. Secondly, we met the hospital Director and requested for the equipment needed in the CTU like oxygen machine, monitors, glucometer, BP machine which were made available on top of borrowing ambulances from nearby facilities catering to at least 40 percent of our needs. The remainder is for the hospital administration to facilitate proper communication programs in between different departments and hospital facilities, both internal and external.
My call to action is to the Ministry of Health. They should procure ambulances as promised, ensure payments of pending risk allowances to staff. There is also the need to improve the welfare of health workers by providing meals and creating good working conditions.