Port Kaituma Hospital on verge of closure after nurses, other staff refuse COVID vaccines

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…unvaccinated staff told to stay home, face salary deductions

By Alva Solomon

The Port Kaituma District Hospital in the North West District is operating with a skeleton staff  as nurses and other persons on the medical institution’s payroll who are unvaccinated have been told  to stay away from the public facility with immediate effect.

According to a notice issued to the nurses and which was seen by this publication,  Sunday August 22, 2021  was the initial deadline given for the 17 nurses at the hospital and other employees to get vaccinated. Only 8 staff nurses have opted to take the vaccine thus far. 
Nevertheless, the hospital management was instructed on Friday to immediately send home staff members who are unvaccinated.

The notice to the staff of the hospital was issued by the Regional Health Officer  who was instructed to do so by the Ministry of Health. The staff was told that those who are unvaccinated “are asked to stay at home from Monday or produce a weekly negative PCR COVID test result from a private entity.”

Reports are that since the hospital is located in a remote community with no means for staff to take the PCR tests, the nurses and other employees have opted to stay at home, leaving a skeleton staff to run the facility which serves multiple communities within the Matarkai sub-region of the North West District.

Staff members were also told that the unvaccinated persons in their midst who occupy government buildings “will be served notice of discipline after being away for 72 hours and money deducted from their salary.”

Those who seek exemptions from the measures were asked to show proof as to why they are no vaccinated. 

But the situation is proving difficult for those who are left to run the facility as the shifts are left with a skeleton staff, most of whom are overworked  given the circumstances. At the moment only two nurses are able to work per shift. “Right now the hospital about to shut down,” a hospital employee told this publication. The employee noted that staff are holding out that their rights are being trampled with and the authorities are forcing them to take the COVID vaccines. 

The authorities have been facing an uphill task to ensure all public workers at medical institutions across the country are fully vaccinated. 

Earlier this month dozens of residents of Linden , including medical personnel, blocked the Wismar Bridge during an anti-vaccination protest. The Lindeners were responding to a gazetted order imposed across the country by the government which saw unvaccinated nurses, doctors and other medical employees being turned away from work .

Subsequently , Minister of Health , Dr Frank Anthony gave the health care workers two weeks to get vaccinated. That deadline expires on August 25, 2021.

Guyana has recorded 21 COVID-related deaths over the past 7 days and on Friday , the Ministry of Health reported that there were 111 new cases. To date 591 deaths have been recorded since the virus first emerged last March.

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