Namibia: Mediclinic Staff Feels Unsafe

NURSES at the Mediclinic Windhoek say they feel overwhelmed and claim the hospital's management has not equipped staff to handle Covid-19 cases - despite a ward dedicated to coronavirus patients.

According to the healthcare workers, the hospital has assigned a ward and the intensive care unit to patients who have tested positive for Covid-19.

The hospital admitted its first patient two weeks ago.

Staff members who spoke to The Namibian on condition of anonymity claim the hospital initially asked them to sign up voluntarily to assist with Covid-19 patients, but they are now selected at random without any prior training.

"By the look of things, the hospital does not seem prepared to admit Covid-19 patients. There is no flow of activity, like who is dealing with Covid-19 patients. The nurses sometimes work with those patients and the next day, they work with non-Covid-19 patients," a nurse says.

Another nurse says staff members are psychologically not prepared to handle patients, while no accommodation has been arranged for those working with Covid-19 patients.

This means staff members' families are exposed.

"We are concerned about our families, and if we have questions, our jobs are threatened," the nurse says.

Dr Stefan Smuts, chief clinical officer of Mediclinic southern Africa, yesterday said all staff members within the hospital have received training on how to manage Covid-19 patients, and on the required personal protective equipment (PPE).

Smuts did not indicate how many staff members are assigned to dealing with Covid-19 patients, and whether special accomodation is provided.

"Strict records have been kept of training events to ensure all staff are adequately trained. Further ongoing training is conducted to upskill staff from general nursing units to operate safely within the critical care environment," Smuts said.

The hospital has also introduced a support programme to assist staff in maintaining their own wellness and to ensure their health and safety, he said.

Smuts said screening has been implemented for patients, staff and other individuals visiting the hospital.

"We have separate Covid and non-Covid treatment areas to further reduce risk. Each patient is issued with a cloth mask for the period of admission should they not have their own, unless a surgical mask is appropriate, to further reduce the risk of transmission," he said.

"Although Mediclinic also performs random staff testing, staff testing is largely indicated for those displaying symptoms or related to high-risk work exposure. Any staff member identified as positive or high-risk is sent home for self-isolation according to Mediclinic policy," he said.

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