20 June 2014

Liberia: Nurses Abandoned Redemption Hospital

Photo: Boakai Fofana/AllAfrica
Street hawkers sell in Monrovia's densely populated New Kru Town community, where seven people reportedly died from the deadly Ebola virus.

Investigation conducted by this paper has revealed that workers at the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town have abandoned the hospital for fear of more deaths from the deadly Ebola virus. The decision of workers to stay away from work has led to the closure of the Hospital.

Authorities at the Ministry of Health told journalists at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing that the hospital was temporarily shut down after nurses decided to stay away, but has since been reopened and was carrying on normal medical operations.

Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services, Tolbert Nyenswah blamed the brief closure of the hospital on the trauma suffered by nurses and other health workers following the death of their colleague, Esther Kesseley.

Nyenswah said the situation is under control. He said nurses and workers are going about their normal duties at the hospital.

But contrary to the Minister's assertion, our investigation established that nurses and other health workers at the hospital have decided to stay away from the hospital until the government and the hospital's administration ensure that the entire hospital's environment is sprayed and they (nurses) are supplied the necessary protective gears before returning to work.

A nurse who chose anonymity (for fear of losing her job) said since the death of their colleague, Esther Kesseley of the deadly Ebola virus, they unconditionally discharged all of the patients that were admitted at the hospital and have refused to accept new patients.

She said their non-corporative action will continue until the government provides them with the needed materials to work with, especially during the 'Ebola crisis' period.

Nurses at the Redemption Hospital told reporters Tuesday that their lives were at risk in the performance of their daily duties after the death of their colleague.

The nurses said they work in a risky environment especially in the wake of the reported outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the New Kru Town community.

The assertions and stay-away action of the Redemption nurses and other workers also contradict comments by the Hospital's Interim General Administrator who claimed that the nurses were provided with the necessary protective gears to carry on their work.

Mr. Dominic Rennie said the hospital received supplies of protective gears from the Ministry and were being used by the nurses and other workers at the hospital.

He displayed a cartoon of the supply kept in his office to our reporter and stated that those were intended for his personal use.

However, minutes after the display of the Interim General Administrator's personal protective gears, nurses at the hospital told reporters that they lacked the necessary protective materials to work with.

Health authorities recently announced the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Monrovia with one confirmed death of a nurse at the Redemption Hospital, few months after the Ministry declared the country free of the virus.

The Redemption Hospital workers said their colleague died after apparently coming in contact with an Ebola suspect due to the lack of protective materials.

"We are all at risk here; we don't have any protective gear to work with here... our friend may have died after coming in contact with an Ebola patient... " Annie Kromah said in tears during brief visit of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to the hospital Tuesday.

The health workers said despite the risky working environment; they remain amongst the less paid civil servants in the country with no insurance benefits. Investigation continues.

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