Aga Khan Hospital conducts COVID-19 patient influx drill

Thursday, April 9th, 2020 19:58 |
Photo: John Ohieng

The Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi (AKUH-N) on Friday conducted a COVID-19 patient influx drill to test its response plan.

With a field hospital with 44 beds capacity, the drill that started at 10 am and ended at midday involved the simulation of care for up to 30 COVID-19 patients arriving within a span of two hours, with six of them requiring care at the intensive care unit (ICU).

Hospital Chief Executive Officer, Dr Shawn Bolouki said the purpose of the drill is more specifically meant to look at capabilities and readiness of the hospital in case there is a massive outbreak.

“As we were preparing for COVID-19, one of the issues was; what if we do have a surge, and we get patients that are more than our capacity in our hospital, what are we going to do? he posed.

 Highlighting the method of the drill, Bolouki said the hospital started looking at what was happening overseas, in the other countries, and realised that they only had two choices; “sit still until we are basically not in control of the events, or the events control us; or we would be thoughtful and start preparing.”

“We started increasing stockpiles that were enough to run for six months spending an additional Sh500 million to increase supplies. Then we sat down as the institution and decided to get ready and then this meant that we have conducted a drill to test ourselves,” he said.

In this case, the hospital has established a command centre structure with very specific needs for COVID patients. After the drill, he said a team will then evaluate the results of the event in order to point out the gaps, which then will lead to another demonstration next week, to firm up the preparedness.

“The key aspects of the drill include the isolation of the patients at the Accident and Emergency, administering of a COVID-19 test, use of portable x-ray machine, to avoid cross contamination transfer to the isolation ward and to the ICU,” he added.

Other aspects included proper donning and doffing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), decontamination of the patient care areas, activation of the Hospital’s command structure among others.

All these, he said are important in ensuring proper precautions are taken by staff for their protection of both COVID19, Non Covid patients at the Hospital and continuation of care for other patients with emergence and urgent case.

A worker prepares a bed at the new Aga Khan University Hospital's COVID-19 isolation centre on Thursday during the COVID-19 mass patients influx drill. PHOTO: JOHN OCHIENG

“The drill is part of AKUH-N response plan that is anchored on providing quality care to COVID-19 patients while ensuring safety of other patients and staff of the Hospital,” he added.

And as part of the measures to enhance the capacity of dealing with a surge of patients, AKUH-N has finalised the setting up of a 110-bed COVID-19 field hospital with a 44-bed field hospital already in place with establishment of another 60-bed capacity hospital in progress.

The Hospital has also adopted a technology that enables its healthcare workers to successfully ventilate two patients with one mechanical ventilator in a worst case scenario where the number of patients requiring mechanical ventilation exceeds the available number of machines.

“This is the first time this technology is being utilized in Sub-Saharan Africa. The hospital has also designed an equipment for disinfection by using UV lights,” Bolouki added.

Other key elements of the preparedness plan include; screening of all persons coming to hospital and ensuring that anyone identified to be at risk of COVID -19 is attended to at a dedicated COVID-19 desk, and setting aside facilities, including an isolation ward, to take care of COVID-19 patients, separate from where other patients receive care among others.

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