UBTH recounts success story of  COVID-19 response

UBTH recounts success story of  COVID-19 response

Prof. Darlington Obaseki

Despite it’s location in one of the top five states worse hit by COVID-19, no member of staff of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) died of the dreaded virus during it’s first wave in Nigeria.

Similarly, no staff of the hospital’s isolation centre has contracted the virus since the hospital first recorded two cases on March 31 2020.

Speaking to journalists about the hospital’s response to the COVID outbreak in Nigeria and Edo state  in particular, UBTH Chief Medical Director, Prof.  Darlington Obaseki attributed the success recorded so far to the hospital’s policy on infection control initiated by the management well before the outbreak of the pandemic.

Prof. Obaseki disclosed that the management, under his leadership had, before the COVID-19 outbreak and as part of its strategic reforms, “reinvigorated and empowered” the hospital’s  Infection Control (IPC) Committee which embarked on an extensive hand hygiene campaign for staff and around the hospital.

“All cadres of staff had been trained on infection prevention and control standards before the be COVID-19 pandemic arrived. This and the inauguration of a Rapid Response Team and a disaster Management Team formed an integral part of the hospital’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Edo state.”

The hospital, he further said, also had to refurbish an already existing Isolation Ward as part of its preparation for the pandemic.

According to him, UBTH relied on alcohol-based hand sanitizers produced by its Pharmacy department while its linen department stepped up production of reusable PPE including aprons, gowns, face masks among others to aid its infection control and prevention drive.

“The Civil and Building Unit also developed stand-alone hand wash stations fabricated from drums with direct connections to the hospital water and drainage system, allowing continuous supply of water and autonomous drainage, Each wash station has a soap dispenser attached, These were deployed to all the entrance points and service areas.

“Also, to promote infection prevention and control, especially to sterilize reusable items such as N-95 masks, face shield etc, our Medical Microbiology Instruments Unit designed and manufactured UV sterilizing chambers and UV room sterilizers. These contributed greatly towards the prevention of COVID-19 in the hospital,” he stated

Asked if the hospital experienced any challenge in the management of critical cases due to lack of oxygen and other respiratory equipment, Prof. Obaseki disclosed that the hospital recently installed a new European standard oxygen plant with the capacity to produce 80 (7.5 ms) cylinders per day. This, he said, has reduced the need for externally sourced medical oxygen and has improved the quality of oxygen provided to patients.

He disclosed that the hospital also installed oxygen pipelines to the medical emergency ward which was extended to all wards in the Accident and Emergency complex.

Also in an interview with journalists, the Chairman, Infection Prevention and Control and Head of Department, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Dr. Esohe Ogboghodo said the intervention of the hospital’s IPC has helped to reduce healthcare-associated infection to the barest minimum not only at the height of COVID-19 pandemic in Edo state but on a daily basis in the hospital.

She said UBTH was one of the 34 facilities  chosen by the NCDC to form an orange network, adding that the hospital is one of the advanced facilities  piloting the infection prevention  and control practices in the country.

“The healthcare workers were already primed even before Covid-19  came on board. We put up information, education  and communication materials round the facilities on hygiene, waste management because this is another core area we need to look at. If we don’t manage our healthcare waste properly, then we are also exposing our staff and the community to needle prick injuries  and infections  coming from poor management of healthcare  waste.

“At the beginning of the Covid-19 we had to ensure that face masks, hand gloves, aprons and boots were available to all staff. We are very lucky as a facility, even though the Covid-19 hit Edo state making it the top five states that were worst hit, we didn’t have too many healthcare workers being infected because these personal protective equipment were made available.

“Part of our activities  is to train the staff as part of their orientation on a yearly basis. We are constantly training and retraining healthcare workers on Covid-19,” Dr. Ogboghodo further said.

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