SUAKOKO, Bong â€“ Medical practitioners at Bongâ€™s Phebe Hospital say they still do not know the result of the test of a suspected Coronavirus patient at the facility â€“ and that is prompting staff to panic, given the lack of basic equipment and materials at the hospital.
The medical director of Phebe Hospital, Dr. Jefferson Sibley, has told The Bush Chicken that the hospital is incapacitated in many ways to fight any outbreak of the Coronavirus there.
Phebe, the only referral hospital in central Liberia, lacks basic testing equipment for Lassa fever and COVID-19, including personal protective equipment and drugs to treat patients.
â€œWe are not fully prepared to combat this disease in the hospital. With regards to [the] treatment of this disease, absolutely, Phebe has nothing,â€ Sibley said.
In its latest report, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia said the country now has seven confirmed cases and seven suspected cases of the Coronavirus. Phebe Hospital currently has one of the seven suspected cases.
Dr. Sibley told a local radio station in Bong that the result for the specimen taken from the suspected Coronavirus patient in Phebe was due on Thursday, April 2. However, up to now, NPHIL is yet to release the patientâ€™s result. The patient is said to still be in isolation at the hospital since Thursday last week.
The prolonged delay in releasing the result has ignited fears among health workers at the hospital.
One nurse who preferred not to be named told The Bush Chicken that they continue to engage the administration of the hospital to push NPHIL to release the result to allay their fears.
â€œWhat we can say is that we will walk away if this case turns out to be positive because we do not have materials to protect ourselves in the hospital,â€ the nurse said.
Meanwhile, Sibley wants NPHIL and the Ministry of Health to decentralize the testing for the Coronavirus across Liberia. He said this would help in the fight of the disease and reduce the burden of people waiting long for results of suspected cases.
â€œWe have called over and over that there is a need that this test be decentralized so that these suspicions will not be carried out for long,â€ Sibley said. â€œSo that when we have a suspected case we can do that test quickly if it is negative, then treat for other things. If it is positive, then we take other measures.â€
He is seeking support for the hospital from the government, NGOs, and individuals to help equip the referral hospital in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Up to date, Johns Hopkins University is reporting that there are 1,083,084 confirmed cases of the disease worldwide. Of this number, there 58,242 deaths, while 213,814 persons have recovered from the disease.
Liberiaâ€™s minister of information, Eugene Nagbe, told journalists that the countryâ€™s first three cases of COVID-19 have now tested negative for the second time and were removed from the 14th Military Hospital and sent to an observation center. Nagbe said the three persons will be released after 14 days of observation.
Featured photo by Moses Bailey