BELIZE CITY, Fri. Aug. 7, 2020– In the wake of the steep increase in COVID-19 infections in the country, which has led to a State of Emergency, particularly in 4 areas — San Pedro Town, Santa Martha, Blue Creek, and Shipyard – which are currently under complete lockdown, the nurses of the Northern Regional Hospital have written to the Nurses Association to highlight their concerns and to request guidance and leadership to address the situation they (the nurses) are facing.
The letter written to the association was leaked to the press, and it went viral.
The nurses are worried because they feel that sufficient measures are not being taken to protect them from exposure to the COVID-19 virus during their interaction with infected persons, and they revealed something quite alarming — that staff members displaying symptoms characteristic of COVID-19 are being required to report to work and are not placed in quarantine. They also said that there is inadequate staff, and that the section of the hospital where the COVID-19 patients are treated is poorly run.
The nurses reported that a patient who is positive for COVID-19 spent about 48 hours in the general ward, and during that time there were numerous interactions with him. The nurses said that the patient was not wearing his mask properly, so his nose and mouth were not properly covered.
Despite their potential exposure from the positive patient in the general ward, the nurses say, they were made to work as per normal in the other units of the hospital, and none of the nurses who had contact with the patients in the general ward were quarantined.
They also reported that a nurse from the Emergency Unit who tested positive for coronavirus, had had interaction with other nurses and administrative staff, but they all remained on active duty and were not quarantined.
The nurses further mentioned that a nurse from the surgical ward who had been displaying flu-like symptoms, of which she had informed her supervisor, was told that despite her symptoms, she was required to report to work.
Nurses working at the flu clinic and COVID-19 isolation ward have voiced their frustration because of poor staffing and have complained that patients are housed in a way that puts staff and patients visiting the flu clinic at a potential risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.
The nurses said that they are also waiting to receive the allowance promised by the Government.
The Orange Walk nurses are asking the Nurses Association to intervene on their behalf.