A SUSPECTED swine flu patient was sent from pillar to post at both State hospitals in Windhoek on Friday, as her suspected symptoms caused mayhem and confusion among medical staff.
During a daylong ordeal, Logresia Garoës claims she was treated as an outcast by doctors and nurses who refused to admit her to hospital for treatment.
Sources told The Namibian that the humiliating treatment the patient experienced on Friday was proof that both State hospitals were ill equipped and not ready to treat swine flu patients. After eight hours of to and fro between the hospitals, Garoës was finally tested and given Tamiflu by the Katutura State Hospital. Then she was advised to go home, as the hospital did not have an isolation ward available. Garoës has a baby and other young children at home, who are at particular risk from H1N1 infection.
The Windhoek Central Hospital turned her away earlier that day, claiming they did not have medical staff to test or treat her.
She was referred to the Katutura Hospital, which had initially referred her to the Windhoek Central Hospital.
Garoës claims that on her second arrival at Katutura Hospital, she was temporarily denied access into the hospital building and told “to sit on a dustbin.”
Eventually she was taken to a deserted reception area and instructed to wait in a “dark and cold room”.
Garoës was finally “rescued” by a male nurse, who for the first time that day explained her symptoms to her and assisted her during her final hours at the hospital.
Here she was also swabbed for swine flu testing and received a prescription for Tamiflu and painkillers. Then doctors sent her home.
She says she expected them to keep her at the hospital.
“I wanted to protect my children, my family.”
Her friend, Willemiena Stoffel, who was at her side during the day, said health officials treated Garoës “as if she was filled with a rotten thing. It made me very sad.”
Sources claim there is no isolation ward for patients with suspected infectious diseases at any of the hospitals, despite months of preparation by the Ministry of Health for the onset of the flu season. Administrators of the State hospitals have attended several meetings at which the H1N1 pandemic was discussed.
Garoës says the hospital nurses treated her in a “bad way” and some told her to “stay away”.
When she collected her medicine from the hospital pharmacy in the early evening, the pharmacy nurse instructed her “to leave the room”.
Garoës says she eventually received proper attention from medical staff at Katutura Hospital. A male nurse arrived and “he explained everything to us. Although he wore a mask, he was not scared to be close to me.”
Things began to pick up when a doctor re-examined Garoës and recommended that she get X-rays and wrote her a prescription for medicine. She was also tested for swine flu.
Between 19h00 and 20h00, Garoës was advised to go home.
Dr Innocent Zulu, the acting superintendent on duty at the Katutura State Hospital on Friday, said he had personally attended to the patient in a consulting room at the end of the day. He explained that it was important to keep her isolated from other patients.
“You can imagine if this person walks into the casualty ward. This could be disastrous.”
He added that the hospital’s protocol prescribes that a patient suspected of being sick with H1N1 must be examined and treated in “an enclosed space”.
Dr Zulu said in the case of Garoës, the hospital recommended that she go home, as this would keep her isolated from other patients. In his opinion, the patient did not display any complications and could be safely sent home, as per protocol.
Dr Zulu said she was visited by nurses every day, who kept a close eye on her.
“We gave her a dose of Tamiflu,” he said.
He added that he has received daily reports on the patient’s state and that “she is doing very well”.
Dr Zulu also explained that the fact that other clinics and the Windhoek Central hospital had referred the patient to Katutura State was because “not every centre is capable of handling a suspected case of H1N1”.
Another health professional yesterday said that the patient was “blatantly refused access” by the Windhoek State Hospital and that the issue was the preparedness of the hospitals for the flu season.
“The infection is around and we need to pull up all our resources. We need to be ready,” he said.
Sources claim that the Katutura State Hospital yesterday started preparing a special ward for possible H1N1 patients.