Name of health worker: Amayo Cyril Onduma
Hoima Regional Referral Hospital
A Nurse’s tale of being part of a COVID-19 Treatment Unit management team
On 26th May 2020 was the first day when I reported to the COVID-19 Treatment Unit (CTU) as a nurse and right from the main gate, the environment was quite full of signs. We were taken through the orientation of activities of the unit by the in-charge. She stressed the use of Personal protective equipment (PPE) and categorization of places like the red zone.
At the time I remember that what came to my mind was, “what if I get COVID-19 while working in the CTU and become a source of infection for the community?”
I joined the clinical team in reviewing patients even though it was quite scary for me. During our orientation, our trainer emphasized hand washing, wearing of appropriate face masks, shields, gloves, disinfecting and sanitizing of surfaces regularly. As nurses in the CTU, we were to take vital observations while dressed in PPEs, serve meals, from breakfast to supper, and necessities and dispense drugs to the patients. And, write the activities done in a report which is handed over to the next shift of nurses.
We faced a couple of challenges as staff and, for which we organized meetings in order to air out our concerns. For instance, some patients believed that they were not sick, admitted against their will and to make matters worse, their investigation results which had been collected on the same day would show different results. This made the patients even rowdier, breaking doors and utensils thinking that it was deliberately done. They blamed us and at times, abused staff. To best address this, we liaised with laboratory departments in relation to samples collected from suspected patients and followed up on their results. Also, there were no quarantine centres for staff who work at the CTU nor psychosocial support for them because most emphasis was put on patients.
My recommendations would be to increase awareness about the Standard operating procedures which were put in place, ensure timely replenishment of PPE and payment of staff risk allowances because we have not been paid at all. In addition, there is a need for more isolation rooms, given that there is limited space for separation of patients who are to be put in groups. All this can be done through lobbying from Implementing Partners like WHO, UNICEF and more.