Mpilo student nurses raise safety concerns

STUDENT nurses at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo have appealed to be temporarily relieved of their duties of offering healthcare services until the institution has provided personal protective equipment (PPE)

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

Nurses and doctors at public hospitals downed tools last week protesting lack of PPE for use when attending to COVID-19 patients while also demanding risk allowances in the face of the global pandemic.

Mpilo, like other State-run health institutions, was forced to turn to student nurses to provide the much-needed essential services while the Health ministry and Health Service Board were looking into the nurses’ issues. On Monday, nurse trainees at Mpilo, however, staged a mini-demonstration demanding protective equipment.

In a follow-up letter to Mpilo health authorities dated Tuesday March, 31, the student nurses pleaded with their bosses to allow them to go home to ensure their safety since the institution was failing to provide PPE.

“We, the Mpilo student nurses do hereby request to be completely withdrawn from the clinical area in light of the corona pandemic due to the following. Other nursing schools such as United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), Gwanda, Masvingo, to mention but a few, have withdrawn their students from the clinical area, hence we feel we cannot be an exception,” the student nurses wrote.

When contacted for comment yesterday, Mpilo clinical director Solwayo Ngwenya said he was busy.

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The student nurses added: “Lack of protective clothing for members of staff has rendered us vulnerable to this pandemic which has claimed thousands of lives worldwide. Lack of knowledge about the coronavirus, its clinical manifestation, care of patients presenting with signs and symptoms and its spread.”

To further compound the situation, Mpilo and other State health institutions face a myriad of challenges such as lack of drugs, COVID-19 testing kits, putting medical personnel under immense pressure including the risk of infection.

A study published in the scientific journal The Lancet in February that focused on medical personnel in Wuhan, in the Hubei province of China, where the virus was first recorded in December, shows that inadequate protection for medical personnel leads to stress, depression, among other health complications.

Sixty-one doctors and other healthcare professionals have died of COVID-19 in Italy, which has been the worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic so far, with 11 591 deaths as of March 30, according to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus resource centre. China, Iran, the United Kingdom and United States among other nations, have also lost medical personnel to the pandemic.

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