Mpumalanga healthcare workers to stop taking Covid-19 samples

Healthcare workers at Mpumalanga’s Middelburg hospital have vowed that they would no longer collect swab specimen from suspected Covid-19 patients, unless they have been provided with personal protective equipment.

In a memorandum sent to health MEC, Sasekani Manzini and HOD, Dr Savera Mohangi, the healthcare workers, who have been demanding to be provided with PPEs claim that they have been disrespected and that the department of health had no regard for their safety.

“Us the employees of Middelburg hospital have been disrespected by your office and your immediate management at our facility. It has been made clear that your office has little regard for our lives during this Covid-19 pandemic,” reads the memorandum.

The workers have for the past two weeks been demanding to be provided with personal protective equipment as provided for in the Standard Operating Procedures, but their demands have fallen on deaf ears.

“Our demand for High Level PPE, as prescribed by your outdated SOP, to be made available to all staff managing CoVid-19 patients, have not been met. MEC you have also disrespected our safety and professional integrity,” reads the memorandum signed by all healthcare workers organisations.

The healthcare workers, represented by the Democratic Nurses Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA), National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), Public Service Association (PSA), Health & Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) and the South African Medical Association (SAMA), have been trying for the past two weeks to meet with Manzini, while she visited Middelburg, but the MEC snubbed them on both occasions.

That, however, has not stopped them from wanting a meeting with the MEC and HOD.

“We demand that you make yourself available to address the employees of Middelburg hospital to make sure our demands are met with regards to PPE. As long as you have not addressed us at our facility we shall only screen patients for CoVid-19 and not obtain samples for Covid-19 diagnosis. Further, we will not manage CoVid-19 patients that will be admitted to our facility.”

Health department spokesperson, Dumisani Malamule, however was still adamant that Manzini and Muhangi will not meet with the healthcare workers, but that they will send their representatives instead.

“The MEC and HOD will be sending a high profile delegation team to meet with the staff and resolve the issues raised by workers,” he said on Thursday morning.

He did not give any reason why the two would not personally meet with the workers, nor did he mention who constituted the high level delegation.

Previously, Manzini had sent her personal assistant (PA), when she visited Middelburg on Monday, but stayed as far away as possible from the hospital.

This incensed the healthcare workers.

“She sent someone who has no clue about health matters to deal with issues affecting medical practitioners,” said one of the medical care workers who attended the meeting.

Mpumalanga premier, Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane announced on Tuesday that the two doctors from Mametlhake hospital in the province have contracted the Covid-19.

She also said that the province had been provided money to buy PPE, but the health department has been insisting that Middelburg hospital would not benefit from this arrangement because these are exclusive to hospitals that admit Covid-19 patients than hospitals that screen patients for the disease.

“The suits were only provided to hospitals that are admitting COVID-19 patients which is ROB Ferreira, and Middelburg is not admitting patients, it is just screening and testing only,” said health department spokesperson, Dumisani Malamule.

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