Another Covid-19 isolation facility for Walvis Bay

More beds for positive patients

02 September 2020 | Health

Eleanor Jansen; Welwitschia Hospital; “It’s important for the public to act fast when they have Covid-19 symptoms…”

Walvis Bay • [email protected]


Welwitschia Hospital completed the process of constructing a 40-bed Covid-19 isolation facility at an estimated cost of N$1.9 million in Walvis Bay.

The price tag also includes the monthly rental fee.

According to human resources manager at the hospital Estelle Ackerman, the facility is an addition to the nine-bed Covid-19 ICU and 24-bed ward for suspected Covid-19 cases already at the hospital and if needed it will be open to accommodate patients from other towns in the country.

"If it so happens that other towns cannot cope with the increasing number of Covid-19 this facility will be there for them," she said.

Oxygen capacity at Welwitschia was also increased from 100 litres to 300 litres.

“Construction of the new started on 15 July and was completed within four weeks. The facility will open this week and will specifically treat patients who have tested positive for Covid-19,” explained Ackerman.

The facility boasts an administration block, donning and doffing stations for the staff on duty (putting on and removing PPE), a nurses’ station in the middle of the isolation facility, as well as a small area inside the facility where patients can stretch their legs.

An additional 16 staff members were also recruited on six month contracts to assist at the facility.

Ackerman said that the facility will be open to both state and private patients.

“Patients will receive the same trusted Welwitschia care, at a more affordable rate. Since it’s only a temporary facility with the basics, there’s no need to charge patients the same as those in the hospital.”

The facility will only be operational as long as Covid-19 is around. “A fraction of the costs incurred are fixed and some of the equipment inside the facility are rentals. We should really commend the Walvis Bay community for their support and for helping when needed. This facility is truly a community project,” said Ackerman.

Patient classifications

Sister Eleanor Jansen, the infection prevention and control coordinator for Covid-19 cases at the hospital, said that there are mild, moderate, severe and critical patients.

“Any patients whose oxygen saturation level (blood oxygen levels) is below 94% is classified as a moderate patient. The new facility will cater for moderate patients who need oxygen to improve their health. As soon as the patient needs more critical care, he or she will be transferred to the Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) which is located next door.”

Jansen said when the Covid-19 cases peaked in Walvis Bay, the hospital realised that there were not enough beds to cater for everyone. The 24-bed ward that was first constructed caters for suspected and confirmed Covid-19 patients (12 beds each).
There are currently six patients on ventilators and three in high care at the hospital.

According to Jansen, people usually wait until the last minute to seek medical attention when they become sick.

“This is a huge concern and we wish Namibians could realise how serious this disease is. People are afraid to be stigmatized when it comes to Covid-19, as well as being placed in isolation. In many instances they wait until it’s too late before seeking medical attention.”

‘Act fast’

She emphasised that it is important to act fast if you have mild symptoms like coughing, a sore throat, fever, loss of taste and smell, or diarrhoea.

“Don’t say it’s just flu and medicate yourself with remedies at home. We cannot mess around with Covid-19. It is a killer. Act as soon as you have symptoms. Covid-19 is a reality. The sooner you get medical help, the better the outcome will be.”

Jansen advised those with symptoms of Covid-19 to seek medical advice to receive the correct medication.

“Home remedies are more related to treating with herbs, but as soon as there is a chemical substance involved you need a medical doctor to prescribe medication.”

She cautioned against using medication prescribed for a family member for yourself.

“It is prescribed to the specifications of that person’s health and needs. Every medication has side effects, even Panado. You cannot use different medication together as you can damage your liver, heart or any other vital organs. You need to seek medical advice when you are unwell.”

The hospital has about 400 Covid-19 files of which an estimated 100 patients were admitted. The majority of the patients recovered with the exception of the seven deaths recorded.

Welwitschia hospital currently has five patients under investigation (Covid-19 results still pending), four confirmed positive cases, five in the Covid-19 ICU with four on ventilation.

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