COVID19 & The Healthcare System

Whether the Corona Virus is real or not, whether it’s what we think it to be or its something else in disguise; the truth remains that many of us have lost friends and loved ones to it, many more know someone who has tested positive, and whether it exists in some countries or not yet–our lives and our world have changed in ways we didn’t anticipate.

The media is awash with news updates, millions if not billions across the globe can’t go a few hours without mentioning it or sharing some information related to it, popular sports events and music shows have been cancelled, schools have closed, streets are almost bare, almost every large organisation website has a Covid19 response message, many businesses have come to a standstill. In short, the world has changed. Our routines have changed. Our conversations have changed. We have become more self-aware and vigilant. In many countries, the healthcare systems have awoken as if from slumber.

Protective Gear for Health Workers

Masks, gloves, gowns and other protective gear are not new, however they haven’t been utilised as they ought by majority of our nurses, doctors or midwives. The former laxity among health workers taking protective gear for granted has been replaced with a desperate demand for supplying hospitals big and small with these much-needed items and other equipment. Before the corona virus pandemic, we have had several contagious and deadly infections and diseases that should be enough reason to encourage health workers to be more cautious when handling patients and supervisors to ensure that all necessary protective gear is available and correctly used at all times. It remains uncertain whether our health workers will maintain the vigilance long after the pandemic or fall back to the old times of complacency.

Sanitisers Not Used in Hospitals

Before the pandemic, it has been common to walk into health centres and not see any sanitiser bottles on walls, sanitiser gel, or a sink in the doctor’s office and the laboratories. The few places that have had them have usually not encouraged their use, including medical staff who would usually just walk past them until the sanitisers hanging on the walls became something more like decor before going invisible. It has been rather common for doctors and nurses to examine a patient with bare hands and not care to wash them before nor after the examination. Seeing how we all need health workers to take great care of us when we are unwell and help us recuperate, it’s about time that they took their own health very seriously. A sick or infected doctor will easily infect all the patients he or she comes in contact with, fellow staff, and family members at home.

Hygiene Compromised

Lately we are seeing medical workers being sprayed and other measures taken to avoid any likelihood of the virus being spread. Hospital staff are now advised to take a bath and possibly change clothes before leaving hospital at the end of their shift. However, this is quite new and many are yet to adjust partly because they still don’t see the need while others don’t have bathrooms where they work. Should hygiene among health workers improve beyond this, who knows, we might finally say goodbye to the old days when you would see a doctor wearing a dirty lab coat early in the morning, unwashed clothes, or visiting the hospital canteen for a snack still dressed in a visibly dirty lab coat.

Compensation for Health Workers

On advising most people to stay home and suspending private and public transport, some health workers have not been sure how to get to the hospitals and other health facilities where they work. Regardless of the training, experience, work overload, and risks in their jobs, many health workers are not paid enough to afford decent housing near their workplace, take excellent care of themselves and their families, let alone be able to save enough for a car or other means of transport. We often blame the negligence of health workers and forget that a tired, hungry, stressed and demotivated health worker can’t be as effective as they want to or should be. Hospital management and necessary government agencies ought to seriously consider competitive compensation for all health workers, reasonable workload and introduce effective motivational and continuous professional development programs for all staff and teams. Where possible, staff can be accommodated on the hospital premises or nearby for easy access in case of emergencies and shorter distances getting home after long hours of work, plus other benefits.

Health workers take care of us how and whenever they can. It’s only right that they take better care of themselves and fair that their employers compensate them competitively and provide them with all the necessary tools and equipment to do their work as efficiently, effectively and safely as possible.