STUDENT nurses at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals have been commandeered to replace nurses who went on strike last week demanding COVID-19 risk allowances and personal protective equipment.
BY SIMBARASHE SITHOLE
“Our situation became absolutely desperate when the Zimbabwe Nurses Association gave a 48-hour notice that nurses were withdrawing their labour citing that they needed a COVID-19 risk allowance,” the hospital said in a statement dated March 29.
“We had many patients in all our hospitals including maternity, who were being left with no nursing care at all, the situation would have been terrible for the already admitted patients.
“The hospital management then decided to engage post-basic students who are already qualified nurses pursuing specialist training to assist as a stop-gap measure, while the ministry and Health Services Board were looking into the nurses’ issues.”
Nurses and senior doctors downed tools last week demanding personal protective equipment from government as well as coronavirus allowances. They claimed lack of protective equipment was exposing them and to avoid the risk, they would rather stay home until government guarantees their safety.
The nurses, however, on Monday said they were returning to work after government made an effort to provide, though not enough, protective equipment to enable them to look after coronavirus patients.
Some doctors and nurses internationally have contracted the virus while attending to coronavirus patients.
Parirenyatwa student nurses who spoke on condition of anonymity said they also feared for their lives in the absence of the protecting gear.
“We are being forced to go to work just because we are students, but our fear is to be contaminated with the deadly pandemic because we do not have proper protective clothing,” said one student.
The hospital, however, claimed it had disbursed adequate protective clothing.
“The hospital made sure the PPE (personal protective equipment) was available for three nurses and it has been disbursed consistently to all the areas where it is necessary in terms of World Health Organisation guidelines.
“These students are working under supervision from qualified senior nurses, sister-in-charge and matrons,” the hospital said.