Govt turns UBH into Covid-19 treatment centre, Mpilo to treat other ailments

Bulawayo residents who test positive for Covid-19 and require isolation or treatment will now be sent to the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) while Mpilo Central Hospital will take over the management of Covid-19 negative cases, according to a new government directive.

“Please be advised that UBH management has agreed in the interim to serve as the isolation and treatment centre for Covid-19 positive cases (based on Polymerase Chain Reaction – PCR test) will be immediately transferred to UBH while Mpilo Central Hospital will take over management of Covid-19 negative (on PCR tests cases from UBH),” reads a memorandum dated July 22 dispatched to the two hospitals.

According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, every patient admitted to any department at Mpilo Central Hospital must have a Covid-19 PCR test performed and only those whose results come out negative will remain at that institution.

In an interview with CITE, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Gibson Mhlanga confirmed the move saying it was to meant to streamline hospital services and address effects of the health workers strike.

“We are trying to turn UBH into an isolation centre for serving Covid-19 positive patients. Negative patients will be served at Mpilo. It is part of our decision to streamline services of Covid-19 and also deal with the strike that has affected some of our staff. This is temporary management to cope under these circumstances,” he said.

Dr Mhlanga said the ministry had engaged the CEOs of the concerned hospitals to start working on the move immediately.

“As soon as the hospitals are organised, anytime the transfer of patients can start,” said the permanent secretary.

According to the memorandum: “The exercise of testing all in patients for Covid-19 must be accelerated. Covid-19 positive patients currently admitted at Mpilo Centra Hospital shall be transferred to UBH.”

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) ambulance services were said to have undertaken to provide transportation of patients between the two hospitals.

“Hospital front-sheets shall be closed and an interhospital transfer effected for all patients requiring transfer from either hospital. New files shall be opened for incoming patients. UBH will provide quarantine and isolation facilities for all health workers,” read the memorandum.

The spike in Covid-19 infections in the city raised concerns on the readiness of local hospitals to confront an inevitable surge that could overwhelm the already feeble health care system.

The concerns noted the incessant health workers strike and the fact that Bulawayo’s two Covid-19 designated health institutions, Ekusileni Medical Centre and Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital were still not ready for admissions despite starting renovations after the pandemic broke out in Zimbabwe in March.


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