Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Health Reporter
THE United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) has been reserved for Covid-19 cases in Bulawayo while patients suffering from other ailments will be treated at Mpilo Central Hospital.
The new arrangement is expected to come into effect this weekend.
UBH will take all Covid-19 patients as a temporary measure until designated health centres like Ekusileni Medical Centre, Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital and Old Bartley Memorial Block (BMB) within UBH are ready to admit patients who would have contracted the virus.
All the designated three centres are still undergoing renovations and there is no definite timeframe when they will be ready for Covid-19 patients.
As of Tuesday, Bulawayo had 546 Covid-19 cases and more than 490 were from local transmissions.
Mpilo and UBH are the main public hospitals catering for the southern region which covers Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces. All patients who are at UBH not suffering from Covid-19 will be transferred to Mpilo but there will be no transfer of health workers between the two health institutions.
The latest development is aimed at preventing mixing Covid-19 patients and others who have not contracted the virus blamed for the spread of the virus especially to health workers.
Mpilo which is not a designated centre has four Covid-19 patients posing risk to both health workers and patients. The four patients will be transferred to UBH.
Statistics show that of the total number of Covid-19 cases in Bulawayo, health workers account for about 21 percent.
Mpilo acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said the new arrangement on how UBH and Mpilo will operate was a collective decision.
“This was a collective decision by UBH, Mpilo and the provincial medical directorate after it was seen that we are now stranded in Bulawayo. Thorngrove is said not to be ready, Ekusileni is not ready and Covid-19 patients have nowhere to go,” said Prof Ngwenya.
“This was a plan to accommodate patients and it is better to put them in one place. Patients, staff members and everyone with Covid-19 will go to UBH. We will see if we are able to swap by the end of the weekend because it is not easy to move a part of hospital to another.”
He said the four Covid-19 patients at the hospital were supposed to have been moved to a designated centre since last week.
He said hopes are that by this weekend, these patients will be moved to UBH.
Dr Narcacius Dzvanga, UBH’s acting CEO said the institution has started to test all patients so that only those who are negative are taken to Mpilo. “If our dreams come true, we want this to be completed by midnight on Friday but at the moment we are now testing the patients so that we know which ones are going to Mpilo and which ones are remaining at UBH. This will be an interim measure while we await renovations to complete at BMB, Ekusileni and Thorngrove,” said Dr Dzvanga.
He said renovations were taking too long to be completed.
“In terms of health workers being ready I do not know how to answer. It has become difficult to deal with nurses because some are on strike, some are on flex hours; some are incapacitated so we are relying mainly on those on probation who have been at home and just recently recruited and they can’t go on strike because they are on probation,” said Dr Dzvanga.
“The danger now is we are dealing with those new recruits who have been out of employment since training. We are aware that we need to train them quickly but we have to balance it and then say what is better to train people on the job or mix Covid cases with patients because you come from home without Covid and end picking it in hospital.”
Dr Dzvanga said it was going to be difficult to train all health workers at UBH to handle Covid-19 cases as recruitment in some departments is underway.
According to Dr Dzvanga, health workers at UBH were going to be trained next week.
“We have started testing patients so that we do not mix because I think it is one of the explanations for all these outbreaks. It’s work in progress and we have gone past the brainstorming, we are now implementing,” he said.
On Tuesday, Cabinet resolved that an agreement be signed between Government and Mater Dei Hospital for the health institution to admit critical Covid-19 patients for free, a move that will improve the province’s ability to deal with the pandemic.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the hospital recently equipped an 18-bed intensive care facility for Covid-19 patients in need of critical care.
“On a related matter, Mater Dei Hospital, a private institution in Bulawayo, has developed and equipped an 18-bed Covid-19 critical care facility. The Ministry of Health and Child Care will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with Mater Dei Hospital so that critically ill Covid-19 positive cases from the public sector can be admitted and treated at no cost to the patient,” said the Minister. — @thamamoe