AROUND the world, The Salvation Army runs 30 general hospitals and more than 200 clinics, meaning that its medical staff in many locations now find themselves on the front line of the battle against COVID-19. There are many programmes in place that are not mentioned here, but Major Joan Gibson, International Health Services Coordinator at International Headquarters in London, shares some updates from centres that have been provided with funding to expand their response. She also asks for prayers that the equipment that has been funded will be able to be sourced despite the lockdown situations that have been put in place.
Howard Hospital is a 140-bed institution a short distance from the capital city, Harare. It is the largest hospital in Mazowe District. In response to the spread of the virus, a tent has been set up at the hospital’s gate to triage patients before they enter – allowing potential coronavirus patients to be identified immediately. Due to restrictions on the movement of people that have been put in place to try to reduce the spread of the virus, Howard Hospital is currently only dealing with emergency patients and those who need repeat medications.
Anticipating the possibility that the virus takes hold as it has done elsewhere in the world, sufficient funds have been sourced to allow the hospital to purchase more PPE (personal protection equipment) and IPC (infection prevention and control) materials such as disinfectant and soap. Funds have also been provided to buy five new ventilators and other monitoring equipment to care for people who become seriously ill as a result of COVID-19.
The 40-bed Tshelanyemba Hospital is in the south of Zimbabwe, more than two hours’ drive from Bulawayo. Most of the men in the area work in neighbouring countries and only come home for holidays. With the borders closing the men are now returning home, and there is concern that they may bring the virus with them.
The hospital has set up a phone line for villagers to call in with their symptoms so they can be given instructions about what to do before going to the hospital. In the event that some of those contracting COVID-19 will develop severe symptoms before coming to the hospital, funding has been provided to purchase a ventilator as well as PPE and IPC materials.
The Salvation Army has a number of clinics across Ghana. At present there is only a low total of COVID-19 cases in the country, but preparations are in place in case that situation changes. New funding has been provided to purchase more PP and IPC equipment and materials.
The Salvation Army’s Evangeline Booth Hospital in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, has been requested by the authorities to be the central facility of the area for receiving all COVID-19 patients. The hospital has designated 30 single rooms which have been refurbished in readiness to receive coronavirus patients, but many other beds have been made available if this area becomes full.
The hospital has been provided with funding to purchase two ventilators and a BiPap machine (to aid breathing) along with other monitoring equipment, so they will be able to respond when severe cases are admitted. As of 7 April the hospital had admitted 22 patients and discharged two. So far none of the cases have been serious.