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posted 22 Apr 2015, 19:31 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 22 Apr 2015, 19:32 ]
The National Health Workers Union, an affiliate of the National Workers Union issued the following statement on April 22nd 2015:


The National Health Workers Union (NHWU) is
outraged at the scandalous and extremely hazardous situation which exists at the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) and additionally roundly condemns the Minister of Health Dr. Fuad Khan for his callous, malicious and unwarranted attacks on nursing personnel at the Port of Spain General Hospital (POSGH).

The “new wing” of SFGH (not the Teaching Hospital) has been without air condition service for over two weeks. The two units that provided central cooling to the building have broken down and estimates suggest that they may be inoperable for between another four (4) to six (6) weeks.

This situation poses great risk to the health and wellbeing of all staff, patients, visitors and even their families at home. A hospital is not an office facility but one which services hundreds of people on a daily basis with a wide ranging number of illnesses.  Ventilation and adequate air circulation are key components in the maintenance of proper hygiene of such facilities. Anyone with knowledge of the new wing and its cousin, the Teaching Hospital, would be aware that they are totally dependent on a continuous supply of air conditioning.

One of the two units at the “new wing” broke down some months ago and very little effort was made to have it repaired; therefore when the second unit failed it has resulted in total chaos. Costly and ineffective temporary fixes are being tried but with little success. In the meantime patients and staff are subjected to sweltering heat and poor ventilation. Patients have to be rescheduled after waiting months for their visits and staff are becoming ill due to the oppressive conditions but continue to display their usual duty of care and commitment to their patients.

Over a dozen areas in the new wing are adversely affected including Accident and Emergency (Casualty) Resuscitation Room: this is the area where critically ill patients are stabilized. Central Sterile Services department (CSSD), this is the area where instruments are sterilized; Phlebotomy, this is where blood samples are drawn; all Operating theatres; Pharmacy; Intensive Care Unit; High Dependency Unit; General Surgery; Ward 10A, Orthopaedic male and female; Eye Ear Nose and Throat clinic.

This situation has been going on for weeks and not one word of commendation to the staff from the Minister, Board of Directors or management. If, however, workers decide that enough is enough, one is sure to hear the toxic tongues of those mentioned blasting them for not caring. This situation with the air condition units is symptomatic of the dysfunctional operations endemic at the RHA’s.

Are there preventative maintenance schedules in place? Are they known and available to staff? Are they being implemented? Are there adequate stocks of critical spares on site? Does management ever do internal audits on their procedures and policies and evaluate their availability and compliance?

Instead of ensuring these questions are answered positively, the Minister is constantly seeking photo-ops and sound bites and seeking to come across as the defender of patient rights at the expense of the hard working health care professionals and nursing personnel in particular.

Can anyone fathom the audacity of the Minister to openly admit that gang members run rampant in Mount Hope, nurses being assaulted on the job at POSGH but that nursing personnel must stand firm and continue to provide patient care?  The Minister seems oblivious to the fact that he is confirming the total breakdown of security measures at all the RHA’s and that he, the respective Boards of Directors and management are culpable.

To add insult to injury the Minister has the gall to ascribe the current turmoil in health to the fact that unions are organizing health workers. What utter rubbish. Yes!! The NHWU is organizing health workers throughout the country but that has nothing to do with workers’ demands for adequate safety and a comfortable working environment.

The NHWU invites the Minister of Health to leave the comfort of the television studios and do a walk through the new wing at SFGH starting at 12.00 noon.