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Hospital lacks nurses for swab-taking for Covid-19

An aerial view of the St. George’s General Hospital

There is a shortage of qualified nurses to do PCR swabs to test persons for the deadly coronavirus at the St. George’s General Hospital, according to a senior nurse.

The qualified nurse told THE NEW TODAY that currently there is only one nurse at the hospital who is qualified to do the swabs on suspected COVID-19 persons.

“There isn’t any other nurses trained at the hospital in PCR testing. That is what I was told the other day. It was embarrassing and shocking to me,” she said.

This newspaper was informed that the nurses who were stationed at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March and helping to take swabs from incoming passengers for Covid-19 testing, are “community nurses” who are not stationed at the General Hospital.

“We have one Ministry of Health, Hospital is not segregated, and it should not be excluded. All of us are Ministry of Health. So how is it that some (nurses) are trained (for Covid-19) and some are not trained?” she asked.

“Even if you have nurses in the community, persons like me who are not directly involved (in Covid-19) should also be aware as to how to do these things,” she said.

According to the senior nurse, some of her colleagues at the island’s major hospital are interested in the process of swab taking of persons for Covid testing and were referred to the single qualified nurse who is stationed at the General Hospital.

“The nurse that we were sent to say that she never had training (in Covid-19 testing) – the training that she had (was) from SARS 12 years ago.

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“I decided that for my own knowledge and benefit I want to learn and know how to do this thing”.

The nurse who takes the swabs reportedly informed her colleagues that no one in the Ministry of Health or the General Hospital itself had provided her with any sort of training to help out with the Covid-19 testing process.

“The PCR testing that she is doing is for private persons but she is doing it at the hospital,” she added.

“So persons are paying their money and coming and she is doing it at the hospital – she is not doing it for patients like per se,” she told THE NEW TODAY.

Government is providing PCR testing for persons at a price of just over EC$400 per test.

The nurse who does the swabs at the hospital is said to be doing it on a case-by-case basis as she is already assigned other tasks in her unit as part of her regular 8..00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m. shift at the hospital.

“If she is doing something and somebody comes to her to do a PCR test, she goes and do the PCR and then goes back to do what she was doing,” said the nurse.

The senior nurse said that whenever this particular nurse goes home there is no one on the hospital compound who is trained to do the PCR swabbing.