Health workers at the ANGAU Memorial Provincial Hospital are frustrated with the lack of leadership on ground, especially when 22 of their colleagues have been infected with COVID-19.

Staff at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department forced the director of medical services, Dr Lincoln Menda, to listen to their grievances today at the hospital chapel.

Staff are concerned about their welfare, saying there is a lack of leadership and communication.

The Emergency Department was the first to close its doors after a member contracted COVID-19. To date, they have four infected staff and have received no proper response from the management on how they should operate or who to coordinate with.

Members voiced their frustration with the personal protective equipment process, saying they are expected to write letters requesting for PPE. The cumbersome process only adds to the manpower and logistics issue.

A staff from the labour ward stressed that they need PPE as soon as possible considering the infection of some of their colleagues, leaving only a handful to deal with mothers. Appropriate PPE is needed as frontline workers get coughed, vomited and bled on.

Staff also need access to transit accommodation as the staff transit has been contaminated.

Dr Menda told the group that the chamber of commerce has given 10 rooms at the Huon Gulf Hotel to the case management team. The management will look at getting more rooms if need be.

In terms of transportation, it was highlighted that the hospital’s 10-seater picks up an average of 13 staff, leaving no room for social distancing.

Misdirection at the COVID-19 testing facility was also a cause for concern, where staff told Dr Menda that they were advised to continue working whilst waiting for their test results. This was contrary to the National Guideline for Infection Prevention and Control where quarantine is required for people who may have been exposed.

While less than 25 staff have been infected, a majority of ANGAU staff refused to place themselves at risk and instead, have opted to remain home, resulting in severe manpower shortage.

Furthermore, drivers have refused to transport ill health workers to the testing facility.

Dr Menda assured the group that he will meet with the CEO, Dr Kipas Binga, and pass on their concerns.

Dr Binga returned to his office today after a two-week isolation. During that time, there was no clear direction from him to his administrative staff, which resulted in a lack of coordination of provincial COVID-19 response.

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