Maritime hospital accredited to run PCR tests

BY: Della Russel Ocloo

The International Maritime Hospital (IMaH) has received accreditation by the Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the Health Facilities Regulation Agency (HEFRA) to commence in-house COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests.

The hospital’s accreditation followed what the facility’s management said was the limited capacity of the public health system in the Tema Metropolis to cope with the rise in COVID-19 cases in the metropolis and surrounding areas.

According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the IMaH, Dr Yaw Oppong, the hospital had since January 1 to February 26, recorded 135 COVID-19 cases out of which 19 have died.

He said considering the rise in cases of the disease, the hospital had committed its 30-bed capacity in both male and female wards into a treatment arena for COVID-19 patients.

Dr Oppong made this known in an interview with the Daily Graphic last Friday.

He said although many health institutions in the Tema metropolis collected samples for testing at the Nugochi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), delays in receiving results were what compelled the hospital to seek accreditation for its molecular laboratory to run its own PCR tests.

He said now that the hospital had been accredited people who showed up at the facility with or without symptoms would have their COVID-19 test results released without delay.

Dr Oppong said besides IMaH’s molecular laboratory, the hospital had modern equipment, including six ventilators, that were ready to be activated to aid in case management and intensive care units for severe cases.

“We were also lucky to have received assistance from GIZ which gave us two ventilators to complement what we have, while the Ministry of Health also provides us with personal protective equipment (PPE) periodically to help us manage cases,” he said.

Oxygen Plant

The CEO of IMaH said the hospital also had its own on-site oxygen plant, which was the main engine driving management of the COVID-19.

He said between 80 to 90 per cent of cases that were reported at the hospital required oxygen and that depending on the severity of the case, an amount ranging from two litres per minute to 15 litres over a minute was needed for control purposes.

Under the circumstances, he said, internal demand outstripped supply, necessitating that the hospital halted its oxygen supply to other health institutions.

Furthermore, he said, the hospital’s dialysis machine had turned out to be very useful since the majority of people with the disease also suffered from renal failure.

“We have had cases being referred to us from the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC) and Nyaho Clinic for patients that needed critical care resulting from renal failure, among other factors,” Dr Oppong said.

The Consultant Anesthesiologist at IMaH, Dr Helen Tettey, also told the Daily Graphic that there were two critical care specialists and nurses who run a 24-hour rotational care for patients with COVID-19.

“We did not anticipate the high numbers initially but realise now that staff managing the COVID-19 unit may have to do extra hours, and so management has introduced incentive packages, including tax rebates for the unit as a way of motivating the caregivers,” she said.

That notwithstanding, Dr Tettey said, it was not all rosy for the hospital since some staff had tested positive for the disease and have had to undergo treatment at one point or the other.

She expressed the hope that following arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, the hospital would be made a vaccination centre.