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From Monday, 32 hospitals, clinics and health centres in Papua New Guinea National Capital District (NCD) will begin Covid-19 testing, an official says.
National Operation Centre incident manager Dr Esorom Doani told The National that the only place used for testing now was the Rita Flynn medical facility.
People with flu-like symptoms have to call the hotline number 1800 200 or the St Johns Ambulance on 111 for assistance.
“We do have some clinics carrying out testing. Some have the capacity and some don’t.
“So once we have everything set up, we will set up the 32 health facilities to carry out testing,” he said.
“It’s free of charge.
“And we encourage citizens to get tested. We hope to test about 10, 000 people in the next two weeks.”
Doani said the call centre was operational from 8am to 5pm and citizens could also call St Johns after hours if they needed assistance.
“But by tomorrow (today), the call centre should be fully operational and will be taking calls 24 hours.”
A PNG nurse say clinic in the National Capital District who have been tasked to carry out swabbing for people having Covid-19 or flu-like symptoms have not been properly equipped.
Tokarara Clinic Manager Sister Olive Oini Ume said while the Covid-19 response team had been pushing them for triage and swabbing at the clinic, no standard operating procedure had been issued to them.
She said it was important to ensure that there was compliance with standards which would turn the staff and patients.
She said the swabbing booth and the triage areas were not up to standard.
She stressed that nurses knew about what was lacking.
“The clinics are managed by nurses and majority of the staff are nurses and community health workers,” she said.
“One of the major issues is although we are managers at our level, we are not involved in the Covid-19 response team.
“All the nurses at the management level should be in the decision-making automatically to make decisions and ensure that there is a standard.”
She said the surveillance team were asked to do swabbing but they were pushing nurses to do swabbing as well.
“Swabbing should be done at one spot only because if a test comes positive, the clinics will go on lockdown.”
She said the referral pathway was not clear because when the surveillance team was called to assist, it took hours to get a response.
Meanwhile, nurses are concerned that they are being discriminated against and treated unfairly as frontline responders to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sister Veronica Wohuinangu, the Port Moresby General Hospital critical care nursing coordinator, said for example, a nurse was forced to be tested for the Covid-19, while another could not go home because the family feared she might have contracted the virus.
She said even some nurses’ spouses had been laid off by their employers because of the fear of transmitting the virus.
She urged health authorities to provide quarantine facilities as some nurses had to sleep at the hospital car park last week because they could not go home.
Health Minister Jelta Wong said the Government was working on a package to help the nurses.
“We know there’s a lot of stigma out there. We know there are nurses who are not allowed back home,” he said.
“We are all trying to mitigate this.”
Wong told a meeting of the PNG Nurses Association this week that that they should refuse to work if they were not supplied personal protective equipment (PPE).
“(If) you do not have the PPE, please don’t go to work,” Wong said.
He said provincial health authorities had been given PPEs because there was a lot in stock.
Sr Wohuinangu said the PPE s never reached the frontline workers. She said nurses last Wednesday had to attend to a patient requiring nebulizer at the hospital emergency ward, who was transferred to the intensive care unit.
“The nurses were performing these procedures without any PPEs,” she said.
The nurses were only informed of the patient’s Covid-19 status hours later, meaning they did not know they had been exposed to the virus.
“The frontline health workers were never protected and now maybe we are all persons of interest,” she said.
Sr Wohuinangu said there were loopholes in leadership and governance at the hospital and the Health Department..
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
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