Regional Referral Hospitals are still dusting beds procured by the Ministry of Health for Intensive Care Unit- ICU wards. The beds and other equipment for the units are stuck in stores and others in open spaces at the hospital parking lots.
Intensive care units (ICU) provide critical care and life support for acutely ill and injured patients. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the units are used to handle severe cases of the disease, mostly persons with breathing complications due to organ failure, one of the side effects of the disease.
The health ministry announced last year that it intended to fit all the 14 regional referral hospitals with 10 ICU beds each in order to improve their capacity to deal with the disease.
However, more than a year since the announcement was made and the beds procured, many regional health facilities do not have functional ICU units, yet COVID-19 cases are increasing.
The ICU equipment at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital has not been installed, more than three months since the delivery was made, while the ICU pendant at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital has been stationed at the hospital parking lot. However, construction facilities to host ICUs wards is ongoing in both hospitals.
At Soroti Hospital, where the management created space in the Private Wing block to accommodate the Intensive Care Unit, technicians are currently remodelling the rooms to suit ICU standards. The work is expected to be complete in two weeks, according to Samuel Adome, the supervisor of the works.
Similarly, at Mbale Regional Hospital, the management hopes to establish an ICU ward in a surgical complex currently under construction. But the Hospital Director, Dr Emmanuel Tugaineyo told our reporter that they haven’t received any new ICU beds but they received 20 ordinary beds, 20 mattresses and 20 bedsheets last week.
According to Dr Tugaineyo, the hospital still operates with the 10 ICU beds that they received at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The beds are currently installed in the High Dependency Unit.
At Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital, the ten sets of ICU beds delivered by Ministry last year have not been installed. The hospital keeps referring patients in need of ICU services to Mulago National Referral Hospital, according to Muhammed Mubiru, the Principal Hospital Administrator.
He says that the beds have been fixed in the private wing of the Out-Patients’ Department-OPD. But equipment such as patient monitors, ventilators, feeding and syringe pumps have not yet been installed on the beds.
The Health Ministry Permanent Secretary, Dr Diana Atwine announced earlier that they procured 150 beds but due to shortages of space at some facilities, the beds could not be installed.
She also revealed that the the ministry was working towards providing space at those facilities that have raised the complaint and that they were considering training personnel to man the unit.