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Health Workers Decry Hostility by COVID-19 Patients in Gulu

There are over 35 health staff deployed at treatment unit and institutional quarantine centre at Gulu College of Health Sciences. The health workers say some patients have been dodging or skipping COVID-19 treatment schedules while others some escape from the center before clinical decisions are made to discharge them.
Members of the Gulu COVID-19 Task Force undergoing mandatory COVID-19 Testing at the District Health Office compound - Photo by Dominic Ochola

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Health workers in Gulu Regional Referral Hospital treatment unit have decried hostility by Coronavirus (COVID-19) patients.

Over 35 health staff are deployed at both the treatment unit and institutional quarantine centre at Gulu College of Health Sciences. The say some patients have been missing COVID-19 treatment schedules, while others escape before clinical decisions are made to discharge them. 

The latest incident happened on July 17th when a 24-year-old Rajab Safi, a South Sudanese national escaped for the second time in less than a month and is still at large.

Dr. Pasko Apiyo, the head of case management at the treatment center  disclosed that some of the COVID-19 patients go berserk due to failure to provide for their families while in isolation.

Bishop Loum Janani, the regional in-charge of case management, surveillance and laboratory services under Gulu COVID-19 Task Force explained that some of the patients turn rowdy on health care givers because they get impatient when their test results delay which prolongs their discharge.

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According to Dr. Michael Mawanda, a case management consultant with World Health Organization – WHO attached to Gulu Regional Referral Hospital says some of the patients are sole bread winners for their families and anything that keeps them away from their loved ones trigger emotional outburst.

Gulu Task Force now wants government to consider the welfare of the families whose bread winners are isolated to ensure their peace of mind for a proper healing process until they are discharged and reintegrated with their loved ones.

According to the Resident District Commissioner- RDC Maj. Santo Okot Lapolo, some of the delays in clinical decisions to discharge patients after their mandatory period of treatment have been caused by resource constraints especially lack of fuel to facilitate timely evacuation of patients, transportation of sample test results and repatriation.

In May, a group of unruly COVID-19 suspects violently protested their quarantine and vandalized bulbs, door shutters, bath tabs, windows and switches belonging to Gulu College of Health Sciences in Laroo.

The District Task Force spent over 800,000 Shillings to repair the damages.Since March, Gulu has treated up to 163 cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19 patients with a cumulative recovery of 124. Currently, as of Tuesday 21st, there were 38 active case still under treatment at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital.

The Task Force now wants to intensify adequate psycho-social counselling sessions with all patients being admitted at the facility to reduce incidences of possible hostility towards the health workers deployed at the treatment centre.