COVID-19: Why we adopted telephone consultation in FCT public hospitals – Dr. Ekpe

By Myke Uzendu, Abuja

The Chief Medical Director of Nyanya General Hospital, Dr. Ekpe Philips, has disclosed that hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) adopted cell phone diagnosis and prescription for patients on non-critical cases to de-congest the hospital and protect both doctors, staff and patients from the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

He added that all the departments in the hospital, including the pre and post natal services, accident and pediatrics, as well as thé emergency services are fully functional, although thé number of medical and para-medics at work each time was pruned down to maintain social distancing and over crowding.

The CMD made the clarifications through the telephone following an exclusive report published by The AUTHORITY on Mandat with the title “COVID-19: Doctors abandon General Hospitals in FCT …Prescribe drugs through SMS”

Dr. Ekpe further revealed that the Nyanya General Hospital took delivery of about 100 babies during the lockdown period, explaining that doctors are always available at the hospital, but can only have physical contact with the patients if after a preliminary telephone conversation with such patients, the case is adjudged critical and there is need for further physical examination.

He however did not disclose if engaging in the novelle practices satisfy medical ethics and procedure and if not taking the vital signs of the patients before the phone prescription is an approved medical process bereft of any complications that could lead to wrong diagnosis and possibly death.

He said, “the action we are taking is to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 virus.

“Nyanya General Hospital is a very big and crowded hospital on a normal day and remember that we should practice social distancing and lockdown, and it will be extremely difficult to do that.

“Even the number of staff we have is over 400, so it will also be difficult to keep all the staff within the hospital, so what we did is to scale down.

“Now the thing we did to reduce the spread is that at the gate, the security men will tell you to wash your hands with soap in a running water, otherwise they can also give you sanitizer to sanitize your hands and also check your temperature.

“Then they will ask you what is the problem and tell you to call the numbers of the doctors in the concerned departments. Those doctors are with the phones inside the hospital.

“When you call, if it is a mild illness or moderate illness, they will tell you what to do and send you prescriptions and you will buy it from the pharmacy. But if it is serious, then you will come in and they will wear protective materials and see you.

“We are still doing cesarean section and taking deliveries in the hospital. In the last two weeks we have done about 30 cesarean sections and we have done over 70 deliveries already.

“The Accident and Emergency Department is functional, the pediatrics emergency is functional and the neonatal unit is also functional. We didn’t leave the place, the doctors are there and are protected,” he explained.

Also in his clarifications, The President, Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Capital Territory Administration (ARD-FCTA), Dr Roland Aigbovo, further reported all the hospitals in the FCT adopted the new strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19.

He said, “All FCT hospitals are running emergency services. Why we decided to to do phone consultations is to limit the traffic, to control the community spread of the corona virus.

“As at now, it is only those that are asymptomatic that are being tested because of scares resources.

“We don’t even know how far it has gone in community spread; that is what brought about the phone consultation for none too-critical patients, but emergency services are still running”.

254 cases of COVID-19 has been reported in the country out of about 5,000 tested samples and six deaths, while 44 persons have so far been discharged as at Tueaday.

Lagos has 130 cases, 96 persons on admission and 32 discharged, while FCT has 50 cases, 35 on admission, and seven discharged.

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