Elisa is heavily pregnant and is expecting her baby any time from now. Ellen from the Matepona area is five months pregnant, another standing next to her is six months pregnant.
It is ante-natal day at the Good Samaritan Hospital and expectant mothers are queuing up for their routine checkups. Elisa has been standing outside the hospital gate since morning.
Ellen and a few of the other pregnant mothers are also waiting patiently, hoping to see a nurse first thing in the morning before going about their day’s activity.
But because of COVID-19 measures all patients, including these expectant mothers, must wait outside, while two security officers’ man the gate.
“Since Monday, we have closed the gates. Patients are expected to wait outside”, one of the security guards said.
With the confirmed case of COVID-19, the hospital has raised its COVID-19 response measures to Level Two. Hand wash sinks now greet visitors as they enter the hospital area. Under the trees, the triage nurses are seated to see visitors as they enter.
While the initiative is welcomed by people seeking health assistance most are saying it could have been better managed.
“The sun is hot, and we have been standing here for quite some time”, Elisa says.
At nine months, she is lethargic, and the heat is making it unbearable – with no chairs to sit on she leans against the gate.
“I live at Gold ridge. I have to come to the hospital by truck. My visit to the hospital is now on a weekly basis”, she says.
Elisa says it seemed as if the health workers worry more about their well-being than that of the patients.
“They have on masks, gloves and are well prepared to receive us”, she says.
Ellen is also uncomfortable, having to stand and wait under the host sun since morning has taken its toll on her. She has an umbrella, but nowhere to sit.
“They should set up benches under the trees, at least somewhere for us to sit while we wait.
“There is enough space in the area there,” she points to a shady area with overgrown trees and hedges.
A man with his family is also standing in the open, he says while he appreciates that precautionary measures being enforced, they should consider the women and children.
“We have sick people and children here, all standing in the hot sun waiting to see a nurse”, he says.
The Guadalcanal Provincial Health Director, Dr. Joel Denty says since moving up to Level Two strict measures are now in place. No vehicles are allowed into the hospital area except for the health vehicles and ambulance. The number of visitors into the hospital at any one time is 10.
“This is upon advice given to us”, Denty says.
He says since Monday they have reduced the number of patients into the hospital and have been in discussion with the hospital staff to identify gaps.
“We only started this week and we have seen the gaps and challenges and we are working on how we can do this in a win-win situation for all. We have realized where we went wrong and we are trying to work our way around this”, Denty says
He says Tuesdays and Thursdays are heavy days, especially when it is ante-natal and postnatal days.
“Our advice now is for people to minimize the number of family members that come to the hospital. Usually when only one is supposed to seek medical attention, the whole family will come as well. We have raised our response to Level Two now so people must be aware of its impact”.
The Good Samaritan Hospital is about 30km away from Honiara. It serves the people of North, North-East, East-Central and Central Guadalcanal.
It was built by AMIS (Amici Missione Isole Solomon). It is a locally registered Charitable Trustee.