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Masaka COVID-19 patients complain of hospital filth, poor conditions

By Cecilia Okoth and Dismus Buregeya

Added 2nd July 2020 02:15 PM

To make matters worse, the patient said their treatment centre is located next to a mortuary and a cemetery saying this not only causes them mental distress but creates an impression that they are soon dying.

Masaka COVID-19 patients complain of hospital filth, poor conditions

Dr Jane Ruth Aceng. Photo/File

To make matters worse, the patient said their treatment centre is located next to a mortuary and a cemetery saying this not only causes them mental distress but creates an impression that they are soon dying.

More COVID-19 patients admitted at the Masaka regional referral hospital have complained about the dire conditions they are living in including the fact that they are admitted but are not given any form of medication.

In a video currently circulating on various social media platforms, the patients in the male ward say the hospital does not offer counseling services which is vital in a COVID-19 patient's recovery process.

"Some of us have spent more than 14 days in this unit yet some of the patients who spent lesser days were discharged. We also do not know why we are being mixed with new patients," One of the patients who were narrating his ordeal in the video stated.

The patients also questioned why they are being mixed with underage children whose lives could be potentially at risk of contracting the virus.

 On Saturday last week, Mary Aliona, a COVID-19 patient admitted at the same hospital came out to complain about the hospital's filth and that they were being given unlabelled medication. However, the health ministry in response said her claims were ‘grossly exaggerated'.

Aliona, a COVID-19 asymptomatic patient was admitted to the health facility two days after she tested positive at the Mutukula border point of entry. Explaining the conditions, her and fellow patients are living in in a video that has since gone viral on various social media platforms, Aliona said the filth at the facility with rubbish littered all over the hospital premises will instead infect them with other diseases.

 "If they say we are COVID-19 patients, why don't they give us at least disinfectants to clean our toilets? But the hospital does not have running water and some of the patients stay without bathing for days," she said.

Contrary to the known practice of giving patients properly prescribed medication, Aliona said, "We rarely see doctors. They get here once to just drop a medication that has no name, the doctor did not even explain what kind of medication this is.

"Having worked as a nurse, I cannot take medication that has not been properly prescribed." To make matters worse, the patient said their treatment centre is located next to a mortuary and a cemetery saying this not only causes them mental distress but creates an impression that they are soon dying.

 In the video, we see children who are not admitted as patients, freely mixing with the patients which put them at risk of contracting the deadly disease.

The treatment centre according to Aliona, is an old facility that had since been abandoned many years ago with holes in the ceiling.

 "We feel neglected, ignored, and are suffering from distress which can actually kill us before COVID-19 kills us," she said, adding that they receive small portions of food.

 In response, a statement released by the health ministry on Sunday evening, said preliminary epidemiological reports indicate that the patient was trying to travel to South Korea through Tanzania but this did not happen as her sample was confirmed for COVID-19.

 According to the health ministry, Masaka regional referral hospital set aside a 20-bed capacity ward for treating COVID-19 patients. However, the increase in the number of males admitted compelled the hospital administration to improvise a temporary structure to cater to female patients as a measure to avert potential challenges that may occur when both mix.

"The patients will be transferred to a well-furnished main ward as soon as the renovation works are completed.  The structure captured in the patient's video was used as an emergency measure as the hospital expands its bed capacity to over 50 to accommodate patients," the statement read.

Contrary to what the patient alleges, the health ministry said the ward has a functional electricity and water system. However, the hospital pledged to intensify waste management to ensure good and proper sanitation at all times.

"All patients on isolation are given sufficient meals and water. Therefore, it is not correct that they are given meals in little portions as claimed by the patient. The medical workers check on patients regularly. From time to time, the medical staff guide patients on their prescribed medications," the statement read. Dr. Mark Jjuko, the Masaka hospital COVID-19 treatment ward in charge said the unit had adequate staff including four doctors, 18 nurses as well as support staff and that these teams visit the patients regularly.

"We have so far discharged 47 out of 77 patients and have not had any complaints," Jjuko said, adding that the current patients could have strange motives.

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