Covid-19 isolation facilities with a difference

Resources put to good use

04 September 2020 | Health

Ben Nangombe; Health ministry; “Any comparison between the two units is not tenable…”

Walvis Bay • [email protected]


Social media was abuzz this week after members of the public compared the cost of a 40-bed isolation facility (N$1.9 million) constructed by Welwitschia Hospital to that of a 24-bed facility (N$12 million) built by the ministry of health and social services (MoHSS).

In a statement released by the executive director of MoHSS, Ben Nangombe, said the facilities cannot be compared.

“A cursory look at the two facilities will show that the technologies used in the ‘construction’ of the one facility and ‘erection’ of the other, are not comparable. While one is a durable structure with a minimum lifespan of a generation, the other is a tent. Any comparison between the two units is simply not tenable,” Nangombe said.

He emphasised that one of the focus areas of the ministry’s response to Covid-19 is the provision of isolation facilities, fully fitted to cater to intensive and high care for Covid-19 patients.

“Given the imperative of expedited action, the ministry chose to utilize the proven technology of chromadeck panels that are durable, yet versatile. Similar structures have been constructed to serve as isolation facilities in preparation for notifiable infectious diseases such as Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever, anthrax and Ebola. The same technology has been deployed in the construction of facilities for community-based ART in different parts of the country.”

Nangombe said that the isolation unit is not limited to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

“It is a long-term infrastructure investment for the MoHSS to manage all infectious diseases that arise from time to time such as Crimean fever, cholera, etc. By any objective measure, the resources have been put to good use.”

Technology

Nangombe said that the design concept of the two prefabricated isolation units constructed by the ministry adopts a durable maintenance-free technology that has been used in various clinics in Namibia.

The design was developed by the ministry’s in-house architect.

“The prototype units accommodate the following: A clean, infection-free reception area and resting area for clinical staff on duty, fully air conditioned with a unisex toilet, a utility store for medical and other supplies to the facility, separate rooms for donning and doffing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), fitted with an emergency shower and toilet.”

The self-contained isolation rooms are fitted with medical basins, oxygen supply, a negative pressure mechanical ventilation system for infection prevention control, a personal bathroom fitted with shower (hot and cold water) and hand basin with mirrors and toilet, and a floor with tiled finish.

The isolation rooms and passage floors are finished with hospital grade homogeneous vinyl floor sheeting. Passages have fresh air supply and provide a positive air pressure to protect the healthcare workers from possible infection. There is also a sluice room fully fitted with bed pan washers and slop hoppers.

Structure

Nangombe said that the building is constructed on a reinforced concrete raft foundation.

“The structure is weather and maintenance-proof, with aluminium doors and windows fitted, interlock paving on external works, mechanical ventilation system that supply fresh air and at the same time provides positive and negative pressure where required. We installed medical oxygen gas with automatic change over kit and alarm. Fire protection hose reels and fire extinguishers are also part of the building.”

The design and implementation period took about 25 days, including all preparatory works, civil works, electrical installation works, mechanical ventilation works and medical gas installation works.

“The building has a minimum lifespan of 20 years. The material composition of the entire structure does not decay.”

40-bed isolation facility

The Welwitschia Hospital said this week that its 40-bed isolation facility is only temporary and that it is open to both state and private patients.

Since the facility is only temporary, only a fraction of the costs incurred are fixed and some of the equipment inside the facility are rentals.

“The facility will be operational as long as Covid-19 is around. The Walvis Bay community really pitched in when their assistance was required. It is truly a community project,” said Estelle Ackerman, the hospital’s human resources manager.

The facility is housed in a tent and boasts an administration block, donning and doffing stations for the staff on duty, a nurse’s station in the middle of the facility as well as a small area inside where patients can stretch their legs. An additional 16 staff members were also recruited on a six months contract to assist in the facility.

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