Nurses: Some patients exposing us to COVID danger

Unified Health Sector Workers’ Union general secretary Rhea St John says nursing staff are now worried as some COVID-19 patients are slipping through the system undetected.

In a few cases, she said they may have exposed nurses to the virus and some of them are now very scared.

Nurses yesterday confirmed that a WhatsApp message shared a week ago, which stated that medical staff on a ward at the San Fernando General Hospital frantically ran from their posts after a patient who was placed in a general area tested positive for the virus, was true.

St John explained: “About two weeks ago, a patient was transferred from the Siparia District Health Facility and he was not screened for COVID-19.

“He was sent to San Fernando in an ambulance with another patient. He subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. The other patient who came with him in the ambulance was placed on a ward that was not isolated and where he could have interacted with other patients and medical staff. He subsequently tested positive and was transferred.”

Staff also reported yesterday that some patients had presented with flu-like symptoms but because they did not fit the ministry’s criteria of having a recent travel history, their swabs that were sent to CARPHA were rejected.

St John said PPE was also limited and staff has to sign each time they receive stock. And while there were issues that management could address, she said some citizens also put staff at risk by going to the public health facilities and not providing all the information.

“Earlier this week, someone went to the Claxton Bay Health Centre with a cough. He sat in the middle of everyone in the waiting area. After interacting with the staff, he revealed that he had a travel history. He was coughing and wanted to know what he had to do,” St John said.

“The Ministry of Health keeps sending out information that if you have a travel history, you should self-quarantine for 14 days after returning. If you feel you may have been exposed to COVID-19, call the hotline. But a lot of people are coming to the health centres and they’re not being honest about their travel history.”

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