The Upper East Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga has welcomed 11 health personnel of the facility who have been declared fully recovered and fit to resume their normal duties after being infected with COVID-19 virus in their line of work.
The recovered personnel, including a staff of the Upper East Regional Health Directorate, got infected with the virus in their line of work when the Region earlier recorded its first COVID-19 cases.
The infection rate which had the potential to interrupt routine healthcare delivery in the Hospital, compelled management to initiate mass testing for the virus for staff, and also advice about 100 of its core staff, especially nurses who had contact with COVID-19 patients to go into self-isolation.
Dr Winfred Ofosu, the Upper East Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service who welcomed the staff at a brief ceremony in the Hospital, said “I am excited and highly honoured to welcome our colleagues who contracted COVID-19 in line of duty.
He attributed their recovery to God and medical expertise, saying “Through God’s intervention and medical expertise, they have all recovered successfully from the virus and are back to duty with us. We thank God for their lives”.
Dr Ofosu said the ceremony was their symbol of love to all the victims who had recovered, “We celebrate our colleagues today for victory over COVID-19, they are our heroes and heroines,” he added.
To some members of the public who still do not believe that COVID-19 is real, the Regional Director said the celebration of the health staff who suffered from the virus should change their minds, insisting that “You don’t need to see dead bodies to believe. COVID-19 is real and all are vulnerable to the disease”.
He stressed on the need for staff of the GHS, and members of the public to continue to observe the social distancing protocols, proper hand washing with soap under running water and the use of face masks to prevent the spread of the virus.
Dr Ofosu urged staff of the facility to show love to the victims as they used to, and continue to work with them devoid of stigmatization, saying “Continue to work with them as before. This is our only duty to them all”.
Dr Samuel Aborah, the Acting Medical Director of the Hospital advised the victims not to be discouraged and entertain fear that they were infected in their line of duty, but continue to contribute their best to healthcare delivery and the fight against COVID-19.
He gave the assurance that the victims would not be stigmatized by other staff of the Hospital and encouraged them to “feel free and let us work together”.
Dr Aborah expressed gratitude to stakeholders within and outside the Region who supported the Hospital in diverse ways in the management of the virus, and specifically thanked the leadership of the Ghana Medical Association for their support in the recovery of one of their members.
Dr Gillian Bogee, a Senior Medical Officer at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and a recovered patient of the virus, disclosed that “I had the worst form of COVID-19, but today, I have been treated and discharged, healthier than before, to God be the glory”.
She expressed gratitude to God and President Akufo-Addo, who ensured that those in critical condition were airlifted to the National COVID-19 Centre at Korle-bu for treatment.
“We are also grateful to the Regional Minister and her team, the Regional Director of Health Services and his abled staff, management of the Regional Hospital and staff, management of the COVID-19 team who all ensured that we received good care,” she said on behalf of her colleagues.
Dr Bogee however expressed worry that some of her colleague patients of the virus faced stigma and said “We have observed with sadness the stigmatization against some of our colleagues who for no fault of theirs contracted the COVID-19 disease”.
She said stigma affected the emotional and mental health of stigmatized groups and their communities, “We are all at risk, so do not stigmatize us, stop giving names to people infected with COVID-19, spread calm and not fear”.
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