UBH sets up ‘best Covid-19 facility’ in the country

Once completed, the Old Bartley Memorial Block (BMB) located within the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) will be a state of the art Covid-19 treatment facility, officials have said.

The old BMB, which housed elderly patients, was turned into one of the designated institutions to admit Covid-19 patients from Bulawayo and Matabeleland.

It is now close to completion with 95 percent of the renovation work done.

UBH Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Narcisius Dzvanga, said the Old BMB centre was approximately a 112 bedded hospital, while 14 beds will for be for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and 16 to 18 to cater for High Dependency Unit (HDU) patients.

“The remainder of the beds will be oxygen beds for patients who will not be needing a ventilator or anything intense. Once completed the BMB will be a state of the art hospital and in his visit of the centre two weeks ago, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said this project will be the best in the country. From the work that is taking place, it’s beginning to look like the best in the country,” he said.

Dr Dzvanga said the hospital is expected to open on November 1, 2020 after engineers predicted they would be unable to open by mid-October.

“We had targeted to open the unit on October 1, 2020 as we tried to answer the same question asked which is ‘when are you expecting to admit the first patient.’ Last time we said mid- October but the engineer wrote to me saying we are unlikely to make it before the end of the month,” he said.

“From the works, once can see that we are this close to finishing. If you look at our West wing, equipment is not a difficult thing because we used to have patients there – there elderly who were placed at nursing homes.  They were around 10 or so. The beds are in storage at the Recreation Hall. We think we can admit patients to this side once the oxygen is connected.”

The Acting CEO said the tricky challenge was installing ventilation and theatre equipment such as lights but noted some of the high dependency beds at the Old BMB unit were designed in a manner that they can be turned into ICU in case critical cases increased.

The BMB also set space for beds in its verandas to make use of all the available room and be able to accommodate a large number of patients, should there be need.

“What matters for a place to be called ICU is you just need the oxygen piping, the ventilator and the nursing staff. That is why what you saw in the ICU and the HDU are exactly the same pipes that you saw on the verandas. So it means when you are out there you can still have your oxygen and suctioning,” Dr Dzvanga explained.

“ICU is usually about ventilation but the current trend internationally is that aggressive ventilation is said to be harmful so we are not pushing most of the patients to be on ventilation but when we say ICU the ventilation has to be in place. High dependency normally doesn’t require mechanical ventilation but in the event of an overflow of Covid-19 cases, the systems are in place as all you need is a ventilator.”

Dr Dzvanga said patients require oxygen and good nursing care, which was why works were ongoing.

“We still remain hopeful the West wing will start admitting come November 1, 2020 but our wish was mid-October. The job done is at 95 percent. At the moment, we are lodging our Covid-19 patients somewhere on site and the numbers are very few.

“We receive daily statistics and from Thursday there were no admissions and currently there is one or two patients who are ready for discharge from where they are lodging. It is our wish that patients are admitted at a purpose built well designed Covid-19 unit,” noted the UBH CEO.

Stakeholders who had toured the BMB block led by Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution in Bulawayo, Judith Ncube, were proud to see the works and hoped the centre would be done in time.

“We are impressed by the progress so far. It is our wish that more funds would be poured into this project so that the works are accelerated well in time. Covid-19 might have come to us unprepared but it has impacted to some extent positively on the health sector development in our province. We say thank you and well done,” said one of the city’s local stakeholders.

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