Patients are deserting Mbale Regional Referral Hospital over increased fear of the Coronavirus (COVID -19).
Beds have become vacant as patients are sneaking out of the hospital as the number of Ugandans with the virus continues to grow. Uganda now stands at 33 cases of the Coronavirus.
URN took a tour in the referral hospital and observed that many of the wards had between three to seven patients. For example out of the 12 beds in room 1 of the Orthopedic ward, only 3 were occupied. There were no patients in the surgery ward and in the causality less than 20 patients were in the ward.
According to sources in the hospital, the Ospeditic and the maternity ward are the only ones functioning normally.
Uganda Radio Network has learnt that the medical workers have also abandoned the hospital over absence of protective gears.
The intern medical workers have since last Monday laid down their tools protesting the deplorable conditions under which they were operating which they say have put their lives at risk of contracting the Coronavirus.
Dr. Romeo Aupal Okidi, the Vice president of the of the Federation of Uganda Medical Interns who also works at the Mbale Regional Referral Hospital says patients stopped coming to hospital when the medical workers were few and they were no longer receiving the medical services.
He said the intern medical workers who include the nurses, midwives and doctors have been at the forefront of offering services at the hospital and now that they are on a strike patients are left with no option but to leave the facility.
“Our medical interns are still crying out for protective gear that is why they have not yet come back on duty. We want government to provide us with Personal Protective gears, the N95 masks and other supplies,” he added.
Patients at the hospital said that many people who were in the hospital feared for their lives since government said that crowds are a way through which the disease is contracted.
Sarah Muyama Balikowa, from Busia said most of the patients started leaving the hospital last week when they heard rumours Coronavirus in Mbale. She said most of them left even before they obtained discharge forms from health workers.
Asuman Wamboga, a patient from Namagumba said most of the patients left the hospital without permission because of the reduced quality in the medical attention given to patients ever since the pronouncement of the virus in the country.
Ali Tenywa, says most of the medical workers ordered most of the patients to leave the hospital for fear of the Coronavirus. The few health workers in the hospital are reportedly working in shifts.
Dr. Arafat Iga Kasuka, a medical intern at the hospital said that the medics are fearful for their lives since there are no protective gears like face masks.
He said the numbers of patients started reducing when the doctors stopped coming to the hospital.
Dr. Emmanuel Tugaineyo, the Mbale Hospital Director could not speak to our reporter by the time of filing this story.
However, he last week he told the surveillance team in a meeting at Mbale Municipal council offices that the hospital had resorted to only handling emergency cases and most of the patients who were not badly off were asked to leave.