While isolation and quarantine facilities appear to have adequate stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) for their staff, the Barbados Nurses’ Association today sounded an alarm for frontline caregivers elsewhere in the health care system.
In her message to mark World Health Day observed today, BNA President Joannah Waterman said: “This is actually in light of the fact that COVID-19 patients are reaching the emergency room unknown to nurses and medical personnel.”
While praising Government’s attention to the level of stockpiling of personal protection equipment (PPEs), the establishment of isolation and quarantine centres and the frequent updates, she stressed that authorities needed to better equip other health care providers now.
She said: “As this pandemic accelerates locally to three deaths, 63 cases and the inevitable increasing numbers we urge management and the authorities to make it mandatory now for all nurses in the emergency room to don PPEs and [provide] mandatory testing for nurses who were found to have been exposed to positive patients revealed after the fact.”
Waterman noted there was nothing new about such a move, pointing out that a similar protocol was implemented during the HIV/AIDS pandemic when there were concerns about needle pricks.
The BNA president contended that nurses working across all the island’s health care facilities should receive PPEs and mandatory testing.
She explained: “The situation is fluid and is therefore likely to spread to Geriatric and Psychiatric health care institutions and we need to bear this in mind. The same mandatory policies will need to be implemented for our nurses who care for such patients in these institutions as well.
“Ongoing periodic testing for nurses will become necessary to have a climate of safe workers who save lives.”
Waterman further pointed out that the current pandemic, which threatens the fabric of health care systems and the lives of nurses now more than ever, highlights the critical role of these health care providers.
She welcomed the Cuban nurses who will provide much-needed support in the COVID-19 fight while heaping praise on Barbadian nurses as “unsung [Florence] Nightingales who remain committed to duty of care in this life-threatening environment”.
She stressed that nurses were determined to survive the pandemic and expressed hope that when the situation abated, nurses would benefit from improved working conditions.
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