Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital threatened by increasing number of patients

People lining up at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital as they enter to seek health services (Photo/Courtesy)

Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH) Director Dr. Celestine Barigye is calling on health workers at lower health units in Ankole sub region to focus on treating people before referring them to the regional referral hospital.

Dr. Barigye while addressing the media on Wednesday said the hospital has since increased the number of patients at the hospital since the occurrence of COVID-19 pandemic in the country which has increased much pressure on the hospital workers yet they are managing patients of coronavirus.

“The challenge we have is that we have too many patients, they come from all over the places and like today really, the whole gates were full,” Dr Barigye said

He said the health workers at lower health units need to put in more efforts and help patients with cases manageable at their units other than sending them to referral.

“I encourage the health workers at the lower levels to do their work not refer everybody to this hospital because the numbers are really big, unexpectedly high but they are telling us that somewhere in the lower health units they are not being helped therefore the only rescue is this hospital so we need to work, the health workers who are there put on your masks and work on your patients. Do not just sit there and chase them from your gate, work on these patients.’’ Dr Barigye said.

According to him, Mbarara regional referral hospital currently has about 500 patients admitted and yet they usually have about 350 patients on admission which stretches the health workers at the unit.

“Now we have about 500 patients who slept here last night, usually we are in the range of 350 patients so you see that is how we get to know it. Our outpatient will vary because like when we have other clinics running, they are many and they can even reach 200 patients in a day but now they are about 250.”

Dr Barigye said there is need to expand health services in the region so that people can be able to get services at every level “the hospital should have expanded long ago because expansion is relative. You know you can expand Mbarara as Mbarara they do not only expand this one, they usually expand even those other satellite health centers to feed into this one so when you expand only this one, you can never have enough space to carry everyone in this region.”

He added, “relatively everyone has to expand because we know that our population is growing and actually, we need to get more space for expansion.”

MRRH Principal Administrator Peter Okello Odeke said due to the increased number, the hospital has gone ahead to restrict attendants to two by giving them tags to show that they are the recognized attendants.

“Because of the numbers increasing, we have gone ahead and given helpers who always come with patients tags to ensure that a limited number of two attendants is allowed in the hospital to reduce on congestion,” Mr Odeke said.

Mr Odeke said the increased number of patients affect their budget as a hospital yet the other lower units should have worked on the patients.

Mbarara district health Officer Dr. Peter Ssebutinde said MRRH serves 13 districts of greater Ankole including Mbarara city which puts a lot of pressure on the referral as people keep referring themselves to get special services.

“What we have to remember is that MRRH serves the 13 districts of greater Ankole and most people are self-referral. People make a choice instead of going to a health center IV where they will not have a blood transfusion and they know the mothers are at risk of bleeding so they quickly come to a place where they will get a better service, the regional referral hospital is overwhelmed but we need now to know exactly what is missing in lower facilities and help them get equipped,” Dr. Ssebutinde said.

Dr Ssebutinde said “Mbarara, in particular, we have done our best, we have improved infrastructure, we have constructed health structure in Rubaaya, we have done that in Bubaare, in Kashare, we are going to do the same for Kakongi in the coming financial year and then we have built capacity human resources ranging from the Doctors, Nurses, Midwives and all that so we have done our part.”

Dr Ssebutinde contends that the government needs to focus on the region in terms of health care to improve service delivery other than focusing only on one district. ‘’Mbarara is one of the 13 districts that make up Ankole region and when Mbarara alone improves and the rest of the 12 are not improving at the same pace, definitely there will be overwhelming numbers for the regional referral hospital.”

Dr Ssebutinde said the region can only improve when all the districts are involved ‘’so moving forward we need to make efforts to improve the region holistically. You look at not individual districts but you look at the greater Ankole region and make efforts to improve the region, make all the general hospitals functioning at the level of a general hospital, if it is a health center IV let it function at the level of a health center IV and that should happen across the region and that will give a good picture of the region.”

Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital has had 21 cumulative admission of Covid-19 and 13 patients have since been discharged while 8 patients bare still admitted receiving treatment.

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