Trainee nurses at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo have implored the hospital authorities to release them as they fear that they might be exposed to the coronavirus.
The pandemic which was first reported in China in December 2019 has spread rapidly throughout the world, forcing many countries to enforce shutdowns in a bid to halt new infections.
In a letter addressed to the Principal Tutor, The Clinical Director, Zimbabwe Nurses Association and Principal Nursing Officer, student nurses said they cannot be an exception as other nursing schools in the country have withdrawn their students from the clinical areas.
“We the Mpilo Student Nurses do hereby request to be completely withdrawn from the clinical area in light of the Corona Pandemic due to the following. Other Nursing Schools such as UBH, Gwanda, Masvingo to mention but a few have withdrawn their students from the clinical area hence we feel we cannot be an exception (sic),” said student nurses in a letter seen by CITE.
They also added that they feel exposed to the virus as they lack protective clothing and basic information on the pandemic.
“We wrote a letter to the Principal Tutor expressing our concerns which were forwarded to the Clinical Director who later on addressed us verbally to say we will be given face masks which we were instructed to use. We therefore feel this is a medico-legal hazard to us.
“Lack of protective clothing for members of staff has rendered us vulnerable to this pandemic which has claimed thousands of lives worldwide. Lack of knowledge about the Coronavirus, its clinical manifestation, care of patients presenting with signs and symptoms and its spread,” said Student nurses.
The students added that they feel exposed to the virus as there are no qualified general nurses in the hospital to supervise them.
General nurses at the hospital have withdrawn their labour over failure by the government to provide them with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“Threats which have been made by the clinical director to terminate our contracts forcing us to work in an environment which qualified general nurses and doctors deemed as not conducive. Absence of qualified nurses in the ward which has led to student nurses working without supervision,” said student nurses.
Contacted for a comment, MPILO Hospital Clinical Director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya, said he had not received the letter.
“I have not received the letter, once we have received the letter, we will advise,” said Dr Ngwenya.
Meanwhile, United Bulawayo Hospital (UB) Acting Chief Executive Officer Dr Narcisious Dzvanga said they released student nurse on Sunday as there were no measures put in place before the lockdown announcement to cater for the welfare of student nurses.
“Indeed, the student nurses were all released yesterday as their day to day welfare was going to be drastically affected by the national 21day lockdown,” said Dr Dzvanga.
“No contingencies were in place before the pronouncement of the lockdown. The days off automatically becomes official vacation leave”.