Innocent Kurira, Chronicle Reporter
UNITED Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) is working to destigmatise the referral hospital as patients are shunning it on the basis that it used to admit Covid-19 patients.

Covid-19 patients are now admitted at Richard Morris Hospital, which used to admit eye patients, but has been renovated to handle Covid-19 patients.

Since July, members of the public in need of medical attention were accessing all services at UBH but only those who tested Covid-19 positive were admitted into the main hospital with those suffering from other ailments being referred to Mpilo Central Hospital for admission.

The temporary arrangement between UBH and Mpilo was meant to ensure those infected have access to healthcare before work is completed at three Covid-19 designated health centres in Bulawayo which are undergoing renovations.

Following completion of renovations at Richard Morris Hospital, patients with other ailments can now be admitted at UBH main hospital but many are still reluctant fearing to mix with Covid-19 patients.

The hospital’s acting chief executive officer Dr Narcisius Dzvanga said the hospital was now operating at full throttle and the administration was working to address the stigma associated with admission of Covid-19 patients.

Dr Dzvanga who was speaking during a donation by the International Medical Corps (lMC) a global, non-profit humanitarian aid organisation to UBH, Mpilo Central Hospital and Thorngrove Hospitals yesterday, said patients had nothing to fear because all measures had been put in place to protect them from contracting Covid-19.

The three hospitals received surgical masks and face shields.

The organisation will also donate to hospitals in Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South.

Dr Dzvanga who said his administration was battling with stigma associated with the hospital being designated a temporary Covid-19 centre, expressed gratitude for the PPE donation.

“There is a misconception out there that UBH is predominately a Covid-19 centre which is not true. It is the duty for all of us to destigmatise this hospital and alert the public that we are back to running our normal business,” said Dr Dzvanga.

“I am pleased to inform you that since yesterday we have opened up for other patients but taking low numbers and on appointment basis only. We will see as we go, if there is less contamination risk between patient and staff then we will open for longer hours.”

Dr Dzvanga said the donated PPEs came at the right time when nurses that use them who have been on strike have returned to work.

“Once we have a Covid-19 dedicated unit, the consumption of PPE’s is going to rise, already it has risen because the nurses strike is over. So, at the moment, we have a full set of staff meaning the consumption level is very high.

“We are educating our staff to use the PPE’s reasonably and appropriately. We are forever grateful for all donations that we receive. We are very grateful to IMC for their kind gesture,” said Dzvanga.

Acting IMC country director, Ms Tryvas Chimwemwe Banda, said the PPE’s will address the short to medium-term needs of frontline health workers.

“This particular donation is in response to the Covid-19 outbreak and we have partnered with Unicef in Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo as we respond to the Covid-19 challenges,” said Ms Banda. — @innocenskizoe