An ordeal of how a poorly managed COVID19 pandemic led to a patient hunger strike

An ordeal of how a poorly managed COVID19 pandemic led to a patient hunger strike

Name of health worker: Avayo Geoffrey

Occupation: Nurse

Hoima Regional Referral Hospital

An ordeal of how a poorly managed COVID19 pandemic led to a patient hunger strike

It was right from the time Hoima Regional Referral Hospital received confirmed COVID19 patients for management that fear to contract the disease sparked among the health workers because of inappropriate screening for COVID19 at the hospital entry point begun.

This was caused by the screening area not being fully equipped, no screening at the entry point of the hospital from 5.00 pm to 8.00 am the next morning and inadequate staffing that led to a temperature not being taken for some days due to inadequate temperature guns and lack of batteries for those present. And, for the suspects who were later assessed, it was inappropriate because of a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff to use including medical face mask to even be given to the suspected patient.

This made patients or their attendants to enter the hospital and inwards without being screened for COVID19. This resulted in some patients and staff testing positive for COVID19 in the hospital. This increased staffs’ fear of attending to patients with signs and symptoms related to COVID19. As an attempt to solve this problem, a temporary holding place (not at World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health (MoH) standard) for suspects was created in the general outpatient department and communication channels established between the COVID-19 Treatment Unit (CTU), laboratory and surveillance team.

Most asymptomatic patients were not agreeing with their positive results as they did not present with signs and symptoms and were not on any specific drugs. This called for continuous counselling and psychosocial support. Though obtaining laboratory results remained a great challenge. And, this delay prior to discharge made patients angry with staff and also some of them went on a hunger strike which compromised our nursing management.

We decided to engage the laboratory coordinator who followed up the delayed results from Kampala and also held a meeting to discuss emerging issues in the CTU. In addition, the hospital administration offered cloth face masks to health workers for use while attending to patients and even suspects. Though, health workers remained to have very low motivation due to poor welfare which the hospital administration needs to look through and may be seek for support from WHO, MOH and non-governmental organisations.