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Staff Housing Project At Gulu Hospital Still Stalling

GULU – The construction of multibillion staff housing at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital has failed to get complete eight years after it was commissioned.

The hospital had secured Shs 6.8 billion from the government through the Ministry of Health in 2014 for the building which would accommodate at least 54 of its medical workers.

Block Technical Services, a local construction company was awarded a 3-year contract in 2014 and the building was expected for use in late 2017.

The Hospital Acting Principal Administrator Otim Onegiu James told theCooperator in a recent interview that the building has not been completed eight years later.

Otim explained that the hospital has extended the contract twice to the contractor but the work is still far from completion following a limited disbursement of the funds from the government.

He however disclosed that the Ministry of Finance has approved 1.2 billion in this financial year for continuity of the work with about Shs 2 billion already spent in the past years of the construction.

“We don’t know how long it will take to complete the building but if there is anything the hospital urgently needs now, it is to offer accommodation for staff looking at their meagre pay,” Otim added.

The Hospital Senior Principal Nursing Officer Norah Nakato however noted that the hospital has lost control on time management during this period of Covid-19 pandemic.

“Majority are renting in the outskirts of the City where they can afford but this is a nurse you must call for an emergency and that is how we always lose the golden minute to save a life,” Nakato recounted.

Though she could not give details of the number of lives the hospital could have lost with poor time management, she says that the time management is life saving which the hospital has missed.

She identified the most affected units as maternity, the acute children’s’ ward, psychiatric ward, genecology and the general medicine ward that need urgent responses and attendance.

Some of the medical workers spoke to theCooperator on the challenges they battle with from home to hospital for work.

Atoo Samuel, an enrolled nurse attached to the outpatient department says that he has to move from home to the hospital about 4 kilometres away.

“I have to fore go lunch in order to save some money for rent and the family and foot to the hospital daily which would then cost me over 60,000 shillings for transport” Atoo added.

His counterpart Madia Ezira who works in a psychiatric department says he had spent more than Shs 1.5 million in the one year he spent outside but was lucky to be offered a single room from the hospital.

“Even if I can’t bring my family here to live with me,  I am happy that I can save some money now and share with them” Madia speaks with relief to theCooperator.

With a total of 331 staff, the hospital is currently accommodating 20 of the medical workers, most of whom are doctors, nurses and midwives according to the Human Resource Department.

Last Friday afternoon, the construction work was going on with a handful of a technical team on the site but the site supervisor declined to speak on the progress of the work.

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