Benue State is Unprepared to Handle Covid 19 Pandemic: Findings by Activista will Shock You.

An investigation into the state of preparedness of the Benue State University Teaching Hospital to respond to COVID 19 conducted by Activista Nigeria-Benue.

There is a problem folks. Today, one discussion led to the other and we decided to visit some of the health facilities in Makurdi to ascertain the preparedness level of these facilities to respond to the COVID 19 pandemic currently ravaging the world. My colleagues from Activista Nigeria- Benue have visited the Benue State University Teaching Hospital one of the designated points of receiving suspects or confirmed cases of the COVID 19 and our findings show that there is a big problem. I mean there is a big problem. We are putting up our findings here, please if you have a way to take this to the Executive Governor of Benue State, the Honorable Commissioner for Health, please do. Indeed, we have a big problem. This was some sort of undercover investigation. Some of the persons we have spoken with do not want their identities out.

Key findings
1. We learnt that there has been no circular issued to staffers of the hospital on the COVID 19. This circular would have been most important because besides informing and preparing the hospital community considering this disease, it would also establish some sort of protocol in handling suspect/confirmed cases in the event there is. The hospital staff are also hearing about COVID 19 just like all of us, on the news and social media.
2. One would expect that with the onset of this epidemic, the hospital would conduct a crash training of sort or simulation or drill to prepare health workers in the hospital. This has not happened. No training, no simulation or drill, no whatsapp message, nothing. The closest thing to a response for the COVID 19 was the press release by Dr Swende denying the suspected case of COVID issued a while ago. Nothing more.
3. The emergency point, the first point of call for the hospital has no infrared thermometers to check the temperature of patients that turn up there and more, no AED used in the instance of a cardiac arrest. This is a huge danger because normally, this would be first point of call in the case of a suspected case of COVID 19.
4. There is no stock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the hospital. This is a big hazard especially for the health workers who have no choice than to work even in these times when others have to quarantine exposing them to the risk of infection.
5. The hospital has an isolation center where they have isolated lassa fever cases. It is worthy to note that there is no N95 facemask in the isolation centre. An interesting bit came out here. Even in the case Lassa fever, sometimes these cases are not identified on time and admitted in the general ward together with other people before confirmation. Then suddenly, there would be a frenzy after confirmation rushing the patients to the isolation centre. It is important to note that current occupants of the isolation centre (being isolated for lassa fever) when they were admitted there, cleaned, mopped and washed beddings by themselves. It remains quite an unfriendly place to be isolated.
6. It is not clear if the hospital has any test kits for COVID 19. The hospital may not be positioned to conduct such test.
7. The BSUTH has an Intensive Care Unit. Our sources are not sure of the number of Beds but estimates about 5 ICU beds and not all have monitors. On respirators, a game changer in the treatment of COVID 19. The information we got was the hospice has only about 3 respirators.
8. The BSUTH has only one Specialist Intensivist, a gross inadequacy. Google search defined a Specialist intensivist as a person who specializes in the care of critically ill patients most often in ICU.
9. The hospital has not put hand sanitizers in any areas either for visitors to the hospital or for inmates. Patients are currently purchasing these themselves. This is another risk area as only those who have the means can and would.
10. One thing everyone who agreed to speak with us mentioned was the sanitary conditions of the hospital. As at today, the toilets are an eyesore. Inside the premises of the isolation center, there is an open dump with the incinerator overflowing. This is surely not a way to handle medical waste especially in these times.

In our attempt to check these with the hospital, we put a call to the CMD of BSUTH. Dr Swende who said he was in no position to talk to me via phone as he does not know me and if I wanted any information, I should come over to the hospital. He also mentioned that the hospital was only designated as treatment centre and that the State has set up a committee headed by the Commissioner of Health. He stated that if I wanted information, I could approach the Commissioner or the Director of public health. He also said the hospital was more than happy to receive support to better position the hospital to deliver.

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