The Covid-19 pandemic stretched health systems globally, and for resource challenged countries such as Papua New Guinea, even more so.
For ANGAU Memorial Provincial Hospital, the positives of enduring the global pandemic were the opportunity to adapt and learn, collaborate with other institutions, and be supported by neighbours such as Australia.
Australian midwives have supported their PNG peers as part of the Covid-19 Clinical Support (CCS) project, an initiative of the PNG-Australia Partnership. Midwife mentor, Lois Berry conducted trainings on the management of COVID positive women within the birthing area.
Clinical Supervisor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sr. Junelyn Norman and her team, attended various CCS trainings and incorporated Covid-19 safe practices into their daily work. They allocated rooms for COVID-19 positive patients in their new birthing area and staff to wash before going home.
“The experience of looking after COVID in the Birthing (ward) made us become well-versed with how we can take care of them when they are in the Birthing and Postnatal wards,” said Sister Norman.
Despite resource constraints at the start, partner support helped the hospital manage the new virus as it swept across the world, according to Doctor Steven James, Acting Director Curative Health Services, Morobe Provincial Health Authority.
“The Australian Medical Assistance Team through the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and a lot of our partners, they helped us to really look into how we can structure ourselves in terms of, having Standard Operating Procedures outlined, reviewed, and then demarcating where and how we should look at isolating and treatment,” said Dr James. .
He said it was a big wake up call for those within the health sector to have mechanisms set in place. In the event of similar encounter of pandemics, they have gone through it and now can be able to address and mitigate, and to contain accordingly.
He acknowledged a lot of the work done by the public health team, especially in neighbouring clinics, districts, and rural settings.
New buildings and a re-designed layout for the ANGAU Hospital Redevelopment were also beneficial.
“It was timely to have the redevelopment as well to give us a new Infectious Disease Ward as well as the TB ward. So, going forward, if we have similar pandemics, we would be in a better position to contain them with the new facilities that we have,” said Dr James.