THE South-West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) said there appears to be a misunderstanding by a few employees regarding the rationing of PPE and distribution of cloth masks to staff.
The authority said it has adequate resources to meet the needs of staff, in response to a Newsday report on the internal memo in which these measures were outlined.
The memo from the acting manager of the emergency department (ED), Krystal Alexis Richardson, informed staff of PPE being reserved only for high-risk areas in the ED.
These included the triage, resuscitation and the viral pathway, excluding areas including asthma and trauma, medical records and ED staff.
The memo said this directive was compounded by the reduced quantity of surgical masks that the warehousing and inventory department was supplying to the ED and with immediate effect the quota of PPE had been reduced.
The directive disturbed some doctors who felt their lives were being put at risk since cloth masks did not provide the same protection as surgical masks.
However, in a release on Friday, the SWRHA assured, “all our dedicated and committed frontline healthcare employees are provided with adequate and proper PPE, which safeguards their health and safety and that of our valued patients.”
The release said, “stock of PPE on hand is prepared and reviewed daily by relevant executives. The Authority further affirms that, to date, there are adequate PPE in stock to distribute to various staff categories, based on risk exposure, in accordance with World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols.”
It said 3,500 cloth masks made by its sewing department, and distributed to all employees, was a goodwill gesture.
This initiative was, “to reduce employee exposure to covid19 while outside the regulatory confined of our health facilities, which include many employees who are to access both private and public transport.”
SWRHA said, “The goodwill gesture, appears to have been misunderstood.” That this was meant as a demonstration of SWRHA’s commitment to ensuring the safety of dedicated staff, “and the capacity of our will to meet the work-life balance needs in challenging situations. “
At all times, the authority added, it has ensured that employees were informed and updated on situations, as it relates to the pandemic.
“Internal correspondence, which has been leaked externally was an example of same. This memorandum, penned after internal dialogue and aforementioned written protocols – with graphic aide on rational use of PPE, that were given to all employees, sought to ensure that internal quality controls were activated, which mandate that frontline staff have the necessary resources for the execution of their jobs.
At Friday’s virtual news conference Minister of Heath Terrence Deyalsingh maintained there was no shortage of PPE.
However, Deyalsingh said the rationing of PPE was part of a policy initiated by government some three weeks ago and what the SWRHA was doing was simply carrying out that directive.