The long-awaited refurbishment and upgrading of Mulago National Referral Hospital has begun.
A visit at the country’s main hospital is met with surprise as most clinics on Ward A 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, the trauma and emergency centre and the mortuary, among others, have been moved to pave way for renovations under Phase I.
The process which started in July finally kicked off on October 8 but not with some inconveniences. Patients who are not aware of the new changes have not been assisted with new locations.
The renovations are expected to last 24 months and normal services are expected to resume mid-2016.
“We are behind schedule by six months but we got the best designs that will, if executed, make Mulago hospital the best facility in Africa. We estimate this to take 24 months but we would be happier if work is finished earlier,” said Dr Henry Mwebesa, the project coordinator.
Clinics and wards that have been moved
To begin with, according to the renovation plan, emergency services, the trauma unit, casualty ward and casualty theatre have all been moved to Ward 2B.
“With the new renovation plan, patients coming for emergency services such as accident victims and any other fatalities will be accessing casualty through the lower gate that previously has been used by people picking up bodies from the mortuary,” said Dr Byarugaba Baterana, the hospital’s executive director.
Endoscopy clinic and the lab have been moved to Ward 6B and main laboratory.
Gynae-Oncology (which deals with cancer among women), general gynaecology, reproductive medicine, gynae OPD, eye and ear, nose and throat clinics have moved to Upper Mulago. Patients visiting the Private Out Patients Department, will now access services from Upper Mulago while the Surgical Out Patients Department has been moved to Psychiatry, Upper Mulago.
Oral surgery will be offered at Dental Clinic in Upper Mulago and Medical Out Patients department of Ward 3 has been moved to Assessment Centre, also in Upper Mulago.
Neural surgery, orthopaedic trauma and 3B emergency medical and emergency surgical departments have been moved to Psychiatry – upper Mulago while General Paediatric clinic formerly in Upper Mulago has been shifted to the eye clinic.
Others, including the speech therapy ward, has moved to Dental department.
The new changes, the hospital director said, might inconvenience patients but will turn Mulago into a better facility. The main gate of the hospital will temporarily be closed and the mortuary gate will become the main entrance to the hospital.
A new road will be constructed from the Radiotherapy department, passing below Baylor College, leading to the small gate opposite the police station which will be the exit road from the hospital.
People going to the Catholic Church, the Mosque and the Anglican Church will use the road passing through the private car park, a few metres away from the main gate while those going to the College of Health Sciences will use Galloway Hostel gate.
Initially, Dr Mwebese said, the plan was to have the two hospitals of Kawempe and Kiruddu complete by now so that they could take on patients that Mulago may not help during the works.
Currently, the two hospitals are still under construction. For this, Dr Byarugaba said patients should seek services from other referral hospitals like Mbale, Mbarara, Jinja, Fort Portal and Naguru.
“We are not closing, but we will not be operating normally. This means we will only be taking on cases that need specialised treatment like heart surgeries, renal dialysis, hip replacement, but not small cases like simple malaria, and minor surgeries that can be done elsewhere,” he said.
This means that for the next two years, Mulago hospital will be handling only cases with proper referral letters.
For $49m (about Shs130b) from the African Development Bank, Dr Byarugaba said, Mulago hospital will be fully equipped and structurally remodelled to offer first class health services.
The money is part of the $88m (about Shs233b) loan of which Kawempe and Kiruddu hospitals have been allocated $15m (about Shs39b) each.
According to Mr Joel Aita, the chief executive officer of Joadah Consult; the company in charge of the renovations, specialised equipment such as CT scans, intensive care equipment will all be procured and installed.
“Every bed will have a gas cylinder and intensive care unit bed capacity will increase from five to 25. The mortuary capacity will also be increased from holding 16 bodies to 160,” said Mr Aita.
Theatres will also be increased from the current six to 16.
Brief on Mulago
Old Mulago was founded in 1913 by Albert Ruskin Cook whereas the New Mulago facility was completed in 1962. The hospital has an official capacity of 1,790 beds, although it often houses more than 3,000 patients.
In 2012, the annual hospital budget totalled Shs33.2b. However, estimates show the facility needs about Shs100b to function properly. Funding continues to be a major constrait for the hospitals operations.
The total loan facility given to Uganda for the renovation and construction of major health facilities in the country.
The amount of money that is expected to be used on the renovation of Mulago hospital.
Part of the $88m loan facility which was allocated for the construction of Kawempe and Kiruddu hospitals.
The number of months that the renovations are expected to be completed.