Katutura Hospital Overwhelmed

KATUTURA State Hospital is struggling with an influx of patients that the institution cannot accommodate any more.

The hospital’s acting medical superintendent, Dr Nelago Amagulu, admitted to The Namibian yesterday that the hospital is overwhelmed.

Amagulu said the hospital is the only referral centre that admits people from all the regions of the country. She also said although the hospital’s capacity is 830, it currently has 840 inpatients.

“As the only admitting facility, whatever case needs admission from a public facility, is sent here. They all come here. Not only those referred from Khomas but also from all other regions as well. They do not go straight to Windhoek Central Hospital,” she said.

She pointed out that Katutura then refers some patients to Windhoek State Hospital for specialised services.

“Your bed occupancy is always on average over a 100%, which means even if you put people on the floor, there is no space. From an infections control point of view, we have reached a stage where we cannot accommodate anybody if this remains the only admitting facility,” she said.

Amagula said the bottom line is that Khomas needs another hospital.

“We have obviously made our requests known,” she revealed, adding that although the hospital has new beds, there is no space to put them. “If you have more than 840 patients who require bed space, you are not going to be able to accommodate them by buying new beds simply because the space is not there. What you need is a new hospital. A greater facility so that you can improve the capacity and that is where we are,” Amagula further said.

The unfortunate part, she explained, is that the hospital does not have the luxury of turning away patients.

“So overcrowding will continue to be an issue for us until we get that hospital in Khomas,” she said. “It will come to a point where it cannot even be a question of beds but about the facility having taken what it can and cannot take any more.”

She said the ministerial road map for public hospitals this year includes one for Khomas, whose plans she understands are at an aanced stage. “We are hoping that construction will begin this year,” she added. Amagulu also sympathised with doctors at her institution and those at district hospitals, whom she said are overworked due to staff shortages, especially in maternity wards. Furthermore, she said when a doctor runs between hospitals, it means heshe needs to depend on good nursing staff that can inform them of issues as they arise.

“You cannot have everyone working 247,” she said, adding that it would not be the doctors’ fault should emergencies occur at the two hospitals simultaneously and they cannot attend to both at the same time. Last year, The Namibian reported that a shortage of beds at the Katutura Intermediate Hospital forced mothers and their children admitted in the cancer ward to sleep on the floor. The Namibian observed at the time that rooms two, eight, nine, 10 and 11 in Ward 7A did not have beds. In 7A, some patients sat on mattresses. Ministry of Health and Social Services permanent secretary Andrew Ndishishi last year blamed the shortage of beds at the hospital on a lack of space.

In July last year, health minister Richard Kamwi said more than 30 district hospitals in the country do not have a single Namibian doctor or a pharmacist, hence the country’s reliance on expatriates. “We are experiencing a shortage of skilled personnel in our country. Here we are talking about experts in the field of public health,” said Kamwi.

In 2008 the health ministry confirmed that foreigners were in charge of 32 of Namibia’s 34 State hospitals, the only exceptions being Katutura and Windhoek Central hospitals.

Source : The Namibian