The storm is over
27 September 2021 | Health
The corridors are empty. There is moment of stillness here at Ondangwa Private Hospital’s Covid-19 ward in the Oshana Region. The hospital serves a population of about 20 000.
Namibian Sun arrives during the late morning of Wednesday, 22 September, to witness the hospital send Eva Elago home after two months.
Elago (51) can only sing praises as she remained unsure whether she would make it out alive, fighting the virus that has so far killed over 3 000 Namibians.
“Today it looks calm. If you had come here in June/July, none of the nurses would have attended to you. I was constantly being asked to deal with something,” said Lucky Kalipa, the hospital’s spokesperson.
He said they are grateful to breathe a sigh of relief, and thanked God that “the worst is over”. He hastily added: “For now”.
“We are not sure if things will get worse again. Hopefully not.”
The midwife responsible for the 12-bed Covid ward, sister Rachel Iyambo, joins the conversation. Iyambo concurs with Kalipa’s sentiments. June and July were hectic months for them. They just didn’t know when it would end.
“The storm is over. It’s quiet. We were full to capacity but the calls kept coming in from families looking for space. It was bad,” she recalled.
Iyambo mentioned that the worst part of the past few months was the countrywide oxygen shortage.
Ondangwa Private Hospital is among many in Namibia which have put building an oxygen plant high on their list of priorities.
“There was a day when we only had two cylinders left and Afrox was also unable to deliver. We feared for the worst, but luckily no patient ran out of oxygen before more cylinders were delivered again,” she said.
A mother of two, Iyambo said nurses and doctors have been tending to patients in the Covid-19 ward for hours on end. Some doctors decided to camp at the hospital as leaving to go home would mean driving back and forth non-stop.
“For an entire month, I didn’t even know what the inside of Gwashamba Shopping Mall looked like. When you get a break, you go home, sleep and get ready for your next shift,” she recalled.
It gets worse
Staff members got infected and had to take sick leave. Some needed compassionate leave for family members who succumbed to the virus.
“It was difficult coming to work when you see a colleague is sick. One of our colleagues was lying in that same room Eva is. She got emotional as she knew and saw how the disease progresses. Nonetheless, she fought and survived,” Iyambo said.
Elago, who spent the last two months at Ondangwa Private Hospital, was one of Namibia’s over 127 000 positive cases. She was almost certain she would leave the hospital in a body bag.
“But God had a plan. I never knew I will be a survivor to this disease. I was in a bad state. I wasn’t even aware I was hospitalised. The ventilators helped me,” she said.
A finance manager at Helao Nafidi town council, Elago said she tested positive for Covid-19 in mid-July after experiencing slight headache and a sore throat.
While in hospital, she lost two relatives to the virus.
“Covid-19 is real. People should follow the regulations put in place because ending up in this bed is not an easy thing,” she said.
Elago was discharged on Wednesday and said she is excited to be reunited with her family at Oshitutuma village.
Even though she is on the road to recovery, she will continue using a ventilator at home to help her breathe until she recovers fully.
Passion kept them going. Iyambo said it is always fulfilling to see patients walking out discharged and not going out on a stretcher.
“We believed we could do it. No one was scared of contracting the virus any more because everyone knew, one way or another, you would be next. Covid was everywhere, not just at work,” she said. The Ondangwa Private Hospital staff members have since been vaccinated, and encouraged Namibians to follow suit.
Currently, there are only two patients admitted to the hospital’s Covid-19 ward.
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