Samuel Kisekka, 24, is too weak to stand long at the concrete slab of the Out-Patients Department of Kawolo hospital.
Tears roll down his cheeks as he struggles and by the help of crutches, joins a long queue of patients waiting to be attended to.
Kisekka narrates to Daily Monitor that he got involved in a boda boda accident and he has to undergo laboratory tests before a doctor can attend to him.
“When you fail to join the line, you can spend a whole day without being attended to. Yesterday, the line was too long and I simply returned home,” he says.
The hospital, undergoing renovations, is overwhelmed by the number of patients visiting daily.
The works are being undertaken by Excel Construction Company Ltd at a tune of Shs39b.
The project, which will officially be handed over to government later this year, is funded by the Spanish government.
Dr Joshua Kiberu, the hospital administrator, says ever since the work started in April 2017, the hospital is attracting overwhelming numbers of patients, especially at the outpatient department, maternity ward, HIV/Aids clinic and casualty ward.
He attributes the overwhelming number of patients at the facility to its strategic location on Kampala-Jinja highway, which makes it easy to be accessed by patients from the neighbouring districts of Buvuma, Kayunga, Mukono and parts of Jinja.
“Initially, we were receiving 350 patients at the outpatient department per day, but today we get 450 patients on average per day,” he says. He cites Monday and Tuesday where they receive the highest number of patients.
“Before the hospital was renovated, we were receiving 360 expectant mothers per month and we could lose about seven mothers a year while giving birth, but now, we get 450 expectant mothers and we have not recorded any death in the past one-and-half years,” he adds.
Patients seeking antiretroviral treatment (ART) were 2,800 a couple of years ago, but the number has shot to 4,030.
Surgery operations conducted at the facility have also increased to 210 per month up from 130.
“And all this has impacted negatively on our budget. As we talk now, the utility bill has accumulated to Shs11m a month for only electricity yet we used to spend only Shs2.5m on power,” he says.
The hospital is faced with staff and drug shortages, which affects service delivery.
“For example, I do not have a deputy. There are new modern facilities that have been put in place such as an incinerator which needs an expert, ICT equipment and a number of clinics which need staff, but they are not readily available,” he says.
During her visit to the hospital recently, Health Ministry’s permanent secretary Diana Atwine advised the hospital administrators to come up with an arrangement on how to reduce on the number of patients especially those who refer themselves at the facility.
“Our people have failed to understand that you go to a referral hospital only when you have been referred. Having cough, or fever doesn’t take you to a referral hospital, lower health centres can handle such cases, our people need to be sensitised on that” She said.
Mr Deo Mwesigwa, the mayor of Lugazi Municipality, commends government for giving the hospital a facelift.
“But we have received complaints from some people that the hospital lacks enough drugs and there is need to improve the hygiene,” Mr Mwesigwa says.
Ms Fatuma Nangobi, a patient, says if government posts more staff to the facility and also provide enough drugs, service delivery will improve.
“We used to come to this hospital in the past and everything was in shambles, but now, everything is new although you have to wait for long hours to get services since the number of patients has drastically increased,” Ms Nangobi says.
Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Ministry of Health spokesperson, says the ministry will increase human resource and the budget of the hospital after it officially commissions.
“We are installing the remaining equipment and we will be communicating when we are going to commission it. When the hospital is upgraded, renovated and also equipped with specialised equipment, it calls for increased human resource, increased budget. As soon as it is commissioned, we will be able to recruit more staff and also ensure that they have enough medicine,” he says.
Mid this month, government deployed soldiers at the facility to crack down on the theft of building materials. Thugs had been stealing cement, iron bars, doors, solar panels and taps, among others.
Kawolo hospital is among the public health facilities across the country, which have for long been in a sorry state. It had not received major renovation since 1968. Today, the hospital has been boosted with harvest tanks to ensure availability of water at every ward.
Among the new facilities at the hospital include; a trauma centre, a modern mortuary, new out-patient block, four staff houses and two operating theatres.
Using a Shs153b World Bank loan, government has also rehabilitated Anaka hospital in Nwoya District, Nakaseke, Kiryandongo, Mityana, Iganga, Entebbe and Moroto hospitals.