Wednesday May 18 2011

Hoima hospital in staff crisis

 Hoima hospital in staff crisis

A nurse attending to a patient in Hoima Hospital. PHOTO BY DAVID AYEBARE 

By David Ayebare

Hoima regional referral hospital is suffering an acute shortage of medical personnel following the retirement and continued absconding from duty of some staff in recent years.

The situation has proved a threat to medical personnel who are being attacked by patients accusing them of neglect.
A nurse at the hospital who preferred anonymity said the hospital has been operating without a surgeon since 2009.

“It is now a year since the surgical ward fell short of doctors. At the beginning of 2009, one of the doctors left the country for greener pastures abroad, leaving Dr Ben Moro, the then superintendent as the only surgeon.

In the second half of the same year, Dr Moro retired leaving a vacuum in the ward, which is yet to be filled,” said a source at the hospital.

Currently, the hospital has only Dr Denis Bitamazire who doubles as a general surgeon and a medical officer.
According to the Ministry of Health, Hoima Hospital is supposed to have 10 consultants, but has only Dr Kitunzi Kasujja of the obstetrics and gynaecology department.

The hospital also lacks enough operating theatres. It has only one general theatre that serves orthopedic, dental, gynaecology and surgical cases, with only one operating bed instead of three.

“There is no other option other than doing what we can and leaving what we can’t. What do we do when things are beyond our reach?” a staff said.

There is only one senior midwife in gyneacology department. Gynaecology ward has 15 beds and an influx of patients, sometimes 30, sleeping on the floor. There is one nurse in labour ward, one in maternity ward. A minimum of three delivering mothers in labour are attended to by only one midwife.

“Sometimes a mother who is delivering calls the midwife attending to another who is in labour pain and she (the nurse) is forced to leave her to go and receive the baby,” one of the nurses said.

When contacted, the Hospital Director, Dr Francis Mulwanyi, said: “Efficiency has reduced. We have no surgeon at all. This means that all patients with complicated cases have to be referred to Mulago National Referral Hospital.”

He added that patients in all wards have to wait for long since there is no ward with enough staff and that the X-Ray department is run by one person.

“Now imagine the X-Ray department has only one staff and it is hard for him to attend to all patients seeking his services,” adds Dr Mulwanyi.

Under capacity
He said Hoima hospital has 97 staff out of the 197 required to run the hospital leaving a gap of 107 personnel.

The 34 nurses (out of the required 56) the hospital has are working under threat from the patients’ attendants whose anger is aroused by the death of their dear ones or neighbours in the same ward who die unattended to. The hospital is run by 8 doctors out of the 35 indicated in the establishment. The laboratory has one personnel at the level of a technologist.

The deputy Resident District Commissioner, Mr Abdul-Swamadu Wantimba said he has informed the minister in-charge of the Presidency, Ms Beatrice Wabudeya, about the situation.