COVID-19 care not being practised across the board

Letters to the Editor

COVID-19 care not being practised across the board

Thursday, March 19, 2020

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Dear Editor,

With the global coronavirus outbreak one would assume medical personnel at the front line would be the most prepared to tackle this crisis.

At May Pen Hospital (MPH), I don't believe this holds true. To date, there have been two training sessions only on how to properly put on and remove personal protective equipment (PPEs). The issue with that? The PPEs required to tackle coronavirus are not the PPEs being supplied.

Globally, medical personnel treating suspected/confirmed cases have been seen wearing hazmat suits, face shields/goggles, N95, or other respirator masks. Strict protocols are adhered to in regard to where the isolation facility is located, how to enter and exit, etc.

At MPH staff members are provided with regular face masks (no filter for air particles), regular scrubs and permeable disposable gowns that don't cover the entire body, and no eye protection. The designated isolation unit lies in the middle of the hospital with three adjoining wards — just one door away. In fact, in order to leave the isolation “ward” you have to exit through one of the adjoining wards. The bathroom facilities for these affected patients is directly in front of the bathroom for staff.

As it relates to staffing, there is no schedule for which staff members will be on duty and for how long. Any nurse currently treating the patient has to wait, sometimes up to 16 hours, to get relieved from his/her duty as some other staff members are fearful of caring for these patients.

Staff here have not been informed on what this virus is and what the treatment protocol is. All we keep being told is: “Wash your hands.” Initially, we were told that anyone in contact with a suspected patient will be in automatic isolation for the following 14 days. This isn't happening. Once the nurse is relieved he or she just goes home like normal.

In light of the island's first COVID-19-related death, I believe the Ministry of Health and Wellness needs to take an active step in ensuring that the facilities are equipped to deal with this virus. We have no ventilators or other intensive care equipment in case a patient should deteriorate. So far, no staff member has been tested for COVID-19, despite being in contact with these patients.

Is this the health care that's supposed to save us?

Concerned staff member

May Pen Hospital

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