Government's announcement that it will bring on more doctors and nurses to help combat the covid 19 virus has been met with some concerns about the strain on the health care system.
Apart from using 100 nurses to assist with contact tracing, Government plans to assign 100 house officers to the North Central Regional Health Authority to bolster mainstream services while moving consultants to the Caura and Couva hospitals were 49 covid19 patients are warded. The nurses comprise 50 from the Red Cross and 50 registered nurses.
Although the nurses will conduct contact tracing over the phone, head of the TT Registered Nurses Association Idi Stuart is not satisfied with how the situation is being handled.
"Government is not liaising with the association and we are getting third hand information so they are doing a number of projects, some good, some questionable, and we are getting the information second hand," he said on Saturday. "We heard they will be bringing on 100 doctors and they are bringing on some nurses but they didn't give a specific amount, what they are required to do, where they will be. All we know is that it will be funded by IDB (Inter-American Development Bank). It is unfortunate that the Government doesn't see it fit to be speaking with the largest group of health workers and the ones who are most affected."
Stuart said nurses were willing to help, but not to the point where their lives were at risk.
"If there comes a point where because of a lack of consultation with the association we end up having a situation where nurses fall sick or die because of this pandemic, we will be taking strong measures against the Government because we have been asking Government to implement certain things, certain precautionary measures which they have failed to do," he said.
Stuart said junior nurses with little experience were sent to Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility where 40 covid19 patients were warded on Saturday. They were among 68 people in quarantine at Camp Balandra, Toco after their return from a cruise ship in Guadeloupe with confirmed cases.
Stuart said they were students who graduated and waiting for employment for more than three years. He said they did not have the hands-on experience of a registered nurse.
"To send a new nurse in Couva to work is extremely dangerous."
Stuart said he had been asking the RHA to bring on junior nurses for the last two months ago to give them the experience, to become familiar with medication and the medical procedures.
"It is all well and good to say you have 100 beds at Couva, 80 beds at Arima, but beds don't take care of people. Nursing staff do, health care workers do. We took an oath to save lives, not to lose our own."
Medical Board president Dr Varma Deyalsingh said apart from the redeployment of doctors and nurses, is the concern about the number of beds to treat covid19 patients.
"The real question is if a need for ICU beds become available, that is the greatest challenge because they will need staffing and ventilators. So for that phase of the influx of persons in ICU is what we worry about. We also worry about the community spread where you will need more hands on board."