In January 2012, Sustain for Life made a small grant to Bwindi Community Hospital towards the construction of covered walkways to connect the numerous buildings of the hospital, something that had been on the hospital’s wish list for many years. During our visit to Bwindi the previous October, we saw first-hand the great need for the walkways as we observed patients being carried between the buildings during heavy rain and extreme weather, causing a great deal of stress to both healthcare workers and patients.
Take for example, an instance when a mother is transferred from the Maternity Ward to the Operating Theatre for an emergency C-section and it is pouring with rain. This is an exercise that cannot be halted till the rains subside. You can imagine the anxiety as the health care givers struggle through the rain to get the patient into theatre and the stress to the labouring mother as she is carried through the rain! With rains, often torrential, almost every day the ground is always muddy and difficult to wheel through with either a wheel chair or trolley. Numerous health workers, patients and clients bring huge quantities of mud into the wards and other areas of the hospital resulting in a serious danger to loss of sterility, increased infection and ongoing cleaning costs. The covered walkways will have a huge impact at Bwindi Community Hospital:
- They will remove the danger of exposing patients to the elements of the weather while in transit from one building to the next
- The walkways will allow for the smooth flow of activities without delay Transfer of potential infectious materials which would, otherwise be picked from muddy paths will be greatly reduced.
- There is always need to carry patients on stretchers, each stretcher carried by two people. If there are walkways, then trolleys can easily be wheeled by a single person leaving the other person to continue with other activities – improving efficiency.
- Cleaning the mud and other materials picked from paths will be reduced as this element is reduced by the paving. This has a direct impact of saving on cleaning costs. The saved funds will greatly enhance health care delivery.
Bwindi Hospital Staff Dining Facilities
In 2008, Sustain for Life funded the construction of a combined staff dining hall and utility area at Bwindi Community Hospital to recognise the contributions made by the devoted hospital staff. It is used every day as a place for doctors, nurses and support staff to take their meals and doubles as a space to hold staff meetings, training sessions and educational programmes. From time to time, staff even use it as an entertainment centre. This morale boosting asset gives caring people a decent facility for occasional respite while acknowledging their status and dedication.
While some other health centres in Uganda battle through difficult working conditions with low staff morale, Bwindi Community Hospital has developed a reputation for high quality services. This is in no small part due to the commitment of its staff, both professional and ancillary. The main focus for the hospital is on the sick and the need, but it is also important that its greatest asset, the devoted people who make the whole thing work, are also acknowledged and given the support to function successfully.