As the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in Gauteng, the biggest nurses’ organisation in the country, we have seen it fit and proper to brief the country, in particular residents of Gauteng, about the troubling findings after visiting the various COVID-19 hot spots health facilities in the province.
Also, we are having this media briefing as the country begins Alert Level 2 with the lifting of certain restrictions such as alcohol and cigarette sales. We want to urge the Citizens of our country to assist us as health care workers by conducting themselves in a responsible manner and understand that much as the strain on our health system has eased, it doesn’t mean that we are out of the woods. The best gift you can give to our foot soldiers and frontline workers is to take full responsibility for your own health and protect those around you.
We also note the scandal around the procurement of PPE in the province and we have issued a statement in this regard to welcome the probe by SIU so that this matter can be dealt with constructively and those found to be corrupt to be dealt with accordingly. We must also place it on record that the work that was done by MEC Masuku and health workers collectively was good in leading us during this period and we are disappointed that the wonderful work done so far in the province is now overshadowed by these allegations of corruption.
We also want to take this opportunity to thank all the front line workers for their resilience in fighting COVID-19. Their resilience is in spite of being not appreciated by the government and being denied their right to salary increment and not being given COVID-19 risk allowance whilst their lives continue being placed at risk by the non-caring and arrogant employer led by ministers Senzo Mchunu and Tito “Mr Pilchard “Mboweni.
Noting that we are also in Women’s Month, we are proud to have celebrated women’s day with Nurses on the Ground at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital’s COVID-19 wards and Tshwane District Hospital. We also note the call made to amend the national coat of arms to include “Her” in honour of women. DENOSA being a female-dominated organization fully supports the call to amend the national coat of arms and we, therefore, call on the President of the republic to answer this call.
We have as Provincial office bearers been going around the province, and started in all the hotspots such as Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital (DGMAH), Tshwane District Hospital (TDH), Sebokeng Hospital and Tembisa hospital and we also visited the Provincial warehouse in Roodeport. We are troubled by the issues we discovered especially at two institutions namely, Tshwane District Hospital and Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital (DGMAH).
We are more worried about DGMH findings, which are the following:
· COVID-19 positive patients are mixed with negative patients, which places the lives of the community members at risk;
· The nurses are bullied by professors, especially at ICU burns, which compromises the strategy to manage COVID-19 at the facility;
· The CEO should resist bullying and protect workers;
· No proper in-service training for workers particularly in allied services.
On Tshwane District Hospital
· Nurses are being forced to re-use disposable PPE (gowns and masks);
· Nurses are asked to wash gowns and masks – this is dangerous and puts their lives at risk and in our view contributes to the rate of infection of health care workers as the quality of the PPE depreciates and will not provide the expected protection.
The PPE warehouse
· We can confirm that there is a lot of PPE in the province and it is sufficient; however some of them their quality is questionable.
· Some hospitals don’t have proper and adequate transport to fetch PPE and they must be assisted in fetching PPE.
· We call on the MEC and HOD to act decisively in deploying proper support and interventions at DGMAH. The mixing of patients must be stopped.
· DENOSA will engage the South African Human Rights Commission to intervene at DGMAH
· The Office of the Health Standard Compliance (OHSC) must investigate COVID-19 management at DGMAH and the causes of the rise in infections of health workers
· The SABS must investigate the quality of PPE to assist to protect healthcare workers
· DENOSA POBs will share their programme of action in visiting all health facilities in the province and we invite stakeholders and the media to join us
· We will soon embark on pickets to highlight the plight of workers regarding COVID-19 and the unpaid salary increments and non-allowance for COVID-19 risk allowance.