Workers at the Free State Psychiatric Complex in Bloemfontein have accused the provincial health department of not adhering to COVID-19 protocols.
19 mental health patients and 15 staff members at the facility have contracted the virus.
Healthcare was disrupted when these staffers, including nurses and general workers, downed tools. They claim victimisation if they complain about working conditions.
Workers, who were tested, were allegedly forced to come to work while awaiting results and infected patients are still allegedly attended to by these workers.
“If your results are positive, how many staff and patients would you have infected by that time you are still going to work,” says nurse Mmabatho Mosaqa.
Another nurse, Khosi Motsumi says, “In the ward I am working in, there are patients that are confirmed positive and they can’t be isolated.”
National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) says infections at this hospital are likely to rise. It says authorities are not following COVID-19 protocols.
“There is no deep cleaning. In terms of cleaning the area by fumigating in a different way, those things are not happening at Free State Psychiatrist Complex. Cleaners also fear to go into those wards,” says Nehawu Branch Chairperson, Daniel Kolomba.
Free State Health Department says it is engaging unions and management to resolve the matter.
“The strike was unfortunate but as a department, we are engaging management and unions because we care for our workers,” says Free State Health Department Spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi.
Health workers at a number of hospitals in the province have accused the department of neglecting them.