By Bongumusa Simelane and Phumlani Gumedze | 2020-05-28
MBABANE Government Hospital support staff claim they are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 as they are not provided with personal protective equipment (PPE).
This was disclosed in a meeting held yesterday at the hospital premises which was attended by shops stewards and orderlies. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss issues such as the lack of personal protective equipment and transport.
Musa Ndlangamandla stated that their supervisors grouped them into different classes of high risk and low risk such that only those who are at high risk were given the PPE and those classified as low risk were not even considered.
“You ask yourself who is working with the patients, because to be honest we are more exposed to COVID-19 since we work closely with patients,” he said.
The situation had worsened such that some of them fell sick and were quarantined while some reportedly tested positive and their biggest worry is that there is no major action taken to remedy the situation by the hospital administration.
Ndlangamandla also hinted that the meeting was to alert the workers about the situation at hand and also stated that their administrator had been engaged about these issues.
He highlighted that the ministry of health always says the opposite of what is happening at the hospital. “We tried to engage our administrator about the situation but we were unfortunate that he could not address us as he is attending to other matters.
The main problem is that the ministry is always saying the complete opposite of what is happening at the hospital,” he said. On another note, the hospital allegedly has one ambulance that transport patients and one Quantum for staff members’transport.
“Our main concern is that COVID-19 precautions are not followed here to enhance our safety.
“The Quantum is not fumigated and worse it doesn’t even have a sanitiser in place.
It is so heartbreaking because the bosses know about these things but no action is taken,” he said. He also added that the laundry is another high risk area as the staff working there does not have PPE while the ministry of health stated that every employee is entitled to such.
Director of Health Services Dr. Vusi Magagula said support staff is allocated PPE by the ward sisters as their direct supervisors.
He said the ward sisters obtain PPE from the pharmacy as per department needs and thereafter supplies the staff members, including orderlies “Orderlies have been given PPE whenever it was available, however, they do not perform some of the serious procedures that require various layers of PPE as per recommendation of the COVID-19 regulations.
They are provided with gloves and masks and protective clothing for cleaning (coveralls),” Dr. Magagula said. He added that those working in the isolation area are given full PPE, the same as the nurse or doctor attending to a COVID-19 suspect patient and their exposure time is limited.
“I’m not sure which other PPE they are talking about. The disposable gowns are in short supply and CMS is working on obtaining re-usable gowns, scrubs and plastic aprons.
These have been distributed to staff as they are supplied by CMS entry points and COVID-19 related areas are currently wearing re-usable blue scrubs. OPD has been given re-usable white and grey gowns. We are awaiting more stock from CMS following discussions with Themba Motsa about re-usable gowns and scrubs,” said Dr. Magagula.
He added that they had also supplied staff, including orderlies in some departments with face shields which were donated and others the ministry purchased.
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