The Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) has lashed out at the government for exposing nurses to inhumane conditions at Elangeni Training Centre Covid-19 isolation facility in Bulawayo where some of its members who tested positive for the novel virus are currently being held.
Thirteen nurses stationed at Mpilo Central Hospital tested positive for Covid-19 last week.
But all is not rosy at the isolation centre, as the nurses’ association claims that their members who are currently isolated at the centre are poorly fed and are exposed to the winter cold.
“Our colleagues were in the media recently as confirmed Covid-19 positive cases. This Covid-19 was acquired in the hospital during execution of their duties yet they have been isolated at Elangeni Centre under deplorable conditions,” ZINA said.
“We have communicated with them as the hospital leadership (Mpilo Hospital) has not even bothered to ask about their welfare and how they can assist them in these trying times.”
ZINA said the association was not pleased with the conditions at the isolation centre and resultantly, their nurses felt “neglected and depressed.”
“In this weather, they bath in cold water as there is no heating facility. For breakfast they are given one scone, with black tea in a tumbler. For lunch and dinner – they are served with a mini specimen of isitshwala with cabbage and the last meal of the day is served at 4pm,” the association pointed out.
“There is no support system for their children at home, as some (nurses) are single parents and they highlighted this but were ignored so the children are alone. One has a chronic health issue and raised this concern and was told a doctor would be sent to consult but no one has been sent. They are complaining of hunger and the cold as the blanket are also not adequate to keep them warm.”
ZINA noted these nurses contracted Covid-19 while on duty and it could have been prevented had they been supplied with protective equipment.
“Their only crime was coming to work and executing their duties under a hospital leadership that does not care, is self-serving and won’t stand for them plus an employer (the Ministry of Health and Child Care) who did not acre to guarantee their safety because they are dispensable. These were hospital infections,” said the association.
Nurses alongside other health workers in the country are on Day 8 of their national strike.
ZINA urged its members to “remain united” until their demands were met.
Reached for a comment, Acting Chief Executive Officer for Mpilo Hospital and Clinical Director, Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said his mandate was the central hospital and referred questions to the Bulawayo City Health Department.
“Direct the question to the City Health department, they must respond,” he said.
When contacted, Bulawayo’s Director of Health Services, Dr Edwin Sibanda, said he was on the road travelling but promised to talk to his officers.
“I am on the way to Bulawayo now and I will talk to my officers when I arrive,” he said.
The Bulawayo Acting Provincial Medical Director, Dr Welcome Mlilo’s mobile number rang unanswered.
In an interview with CITE, Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Lovemore Matuke, said he would investigate the situation at Elangeni Training Centre and seemed surprised that nurses were isolated there.
“I will investigate and phone Elangeni Training Centre. I will also send our officers to look at the welfare conditions and the Ministry of Health and Child Care has to help us as well,” he said.