The National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) chapter, has ordered its members working at the hospital’s isolation centre to sit at home over alleged negligence of their welfare and lack of safety.
The Chairman of the chapter, Mrs Mercy Lenka, told newsmen on Monday during a protest action in Jos that the order was necessary as the members were risking their lives working under difficult and stringent conditions at the centre.
She stressed that the standard practice in other parts of Nigeria and the world was for special accommodation to be provided for the nurses, and not living with their families while caring for patients.
She also bemoaned the lack of a special room created for suspected cases at the hospital, saying that only a screen demarcated with clothing material was available for the suspected cases at the casualty unit.
The chairman decried the lack of incentives, insurance and hazard allowances for the nurses at the isolation centre, saying that in spite of the incidences at the hospital, the state government had not taken any action.
“Our members and other patients are at risk of getting infected with the disease at the unit.
“Particularly, we are taking this action because a patient was managed in the ward and it turned out that he became a suspected patient and the result turned out to be positive.
“All the people who nursed this patient were tested because of the exposure and then a nurse working at the centre tested positive.
“ We raised an eyebrow when we saw the temporary arrangement made by the hospital for suspected cases, which was just a cloth demarcation at the casualty unit.
“We also called the attention of the infectious unit of the hospital, but they said the patients will not be kept for up to two hours there for their samples to be taken.
“It will interest you to know that a patient has been there since Friday, while a patient was brought last night presenting classical symptoms of COVID-19, yet his samples are yet to be taken.
“This is a risk to other patients at that unit and the nurses there who do not have Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs),’’ she alleged.
The union leader said that nurses at the centre would only return to duty if they were provided with accommodation, incentives and hazard allowances, and threatened that failure to provide a special room for suspected cases awaiting results may warrant a total strike of nurses in the hospital.
“Nurses at the centre must be tested before they resume as some may be positive and still going back to put their families at risk, which is in irony of our advocacy against community transmission.
“Even if the Federal Government has not implemented the hazard provisions, the state task force should handle this matter,’’ Lenka said.
She alleged that nurses in some isolation centres in the state had been given accommodation, and wondered why it was not so for those in JUTH.
In his reaction, the Plateau Commissioner for Health, Dr Nimkong Lar, said he was unaware of the development, but would get details from the Chief Medical Officer of JUTH.
“We will try to look into their grievances and correct them in the interest of all and sundry,” Lar assured.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Plateau government had on May 21 announced that three health officials tested positive to COVID-19.