Workers suffering from poor work conditions at MHC, MCMH – PSU
Broken, overflowing toilets at the Mental Health Centre(MHC) and no air conditioning unit in the sterilization department at the main hospital are causing problems for the workers at these places.
These problems were relayed by the President of the Public Service Union (PSU), Elroy Boucher, last week Tuesday.
Boucher informed that for the past nine months at the Central Sterilizing and Services department at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) there has been no air conditioning unit.
He said that in the face of “unbearable heat” the workers have resorted to leaving the door open to get breeze, and turning off the lights. They have also acquired a fan to use.
However, in a sterilizing manual issued a few years ago by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Boucher stated, it informs that, “fans should not be allowed in the sterilizing department since they can generate high turbulence of dust in the air and microorganisms that are projected from the floor to the work tables.”
Explaining why there was a need for an air conditioning unit, he explained that an ideal temperature for the department would be between 18 and 25 degrees. “Higher temperature and moisture favour microbial growth,” Boucher relayed.
He said that the PSU wrote to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Cuthbert Knights, three weeks ago and gave the Ministry two weeks to correct the problem. “His response was they are aware of the problem and have been dealing with it,” the President indicated.
“But nine months is too long a time to be stating that you’re dealing with it. And all it requires is for the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health to come together, because the financing has to come from the Ministry of Finance to replace the air condition unit,” Boucher lamented.
He noted that it not only affects the workers but the public as well because the conditions could effect the quality of sterilizing done, and that the issue should therefore not be slighted.
“It is simply a matter of spending our hard earned tax dollars to correct the problem. And it should not be taking nine months going on to a year for that to be corrected. The public health is at stake and Government needs to act and act swiftly on it,” he stated.
At the Mental Health Centre (MHC), in the male ward, which is overcrowded according to Boucher, there is said to be an issue with no running water and broken toilets. Boucher is said to have visited the facility in May when the situation had reached “crisis” level.
“You had faeces running right out to the nurse’s station right from the male ward. Toilets overflowing because there was no running water. They’re all broken,” he recalled.
The PSU alleges that some workers there “were told by the management that they need to put on their water boots and their gloves and their coat and go and clean it up.”
When they wrote to the Ministry of Health about it in May, the Union was told that the Ministry was addressing it.
“Today, this is September, we have been advised by our workers there, the members of the Union, the problem still exists,” the President informed.
He claimed that because of the problem some workers had to take sick leave a few months ago.
“And these are not difficult problems, these problems just require some understanding, some empathy,” he noted.