The Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) has frozen all annual leave for the next two months due to skeletal staff treating the growing number of COVID-19 patients at the region’s four main hospitals. .
Around 15 per cent of staff working at Falmouth Hospital in Trelawny, Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James, Noel Holmes Hospital in Hanover and Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland are in self-isolation or quarantine due to infection or exposure to the coronavirus.
The Sunday Gleaner reported that about 130 WRHA healthcare workers are recovering from the virus amid steadily increasing patient numbers at the region’s four main hospitals.
Dr. Brian James, president of the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ), said the WRHA has no other alternative at this time.
“I believe that they are obliged to take these measures to ease the pressure on the (health) system. We just hope that the authorities and the population will realize how difficult the situation is and try to intensify their efforts to limit the spread of this virus in the community,” James said. the gleaner Tuesday.
He said the WRHA’s decision was not unique, as the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) also took a similar approach.
“It has become necessary because the situation is becoming more and more difficult within hospitals,” he said. “But as things stand, things are so difficult with so many people away and so many patients we have. The regional authority has no choice but to do what it can to prevent the system from collapsing.
The WRHA directive suspending annual leave arrived Monday in a letter from Celia Huggan, Director of Human Resources Management, and was circulated to all Parish Directors, General Managers, Parish Personnel Officers and Regional Officers in the staff.
“I have been asked to advise you that approval of annual leave should be suspended effective immediately, for the next two months and/or until further notice. This directive is the result of service demands caused by the surge of COVID-19,” the letter read.
According to James, if the government paid some attention to its recommendations to suspend the resumption of the gradual roll-out of face-to-face classes and return to the work-from-home initiative, as well as the imposition of a night curfew until 9 a.m., the country would not have been in its current crisis.
“If the government had properly enforced restrictions such as gatherings, then maybe we wouldn’t have to do something like this,” insisted the MAJ president, while revealing that the state of the medical profession is unhealthy and make employees feel rejected.
“It’s not a time of high morale in the medical community, it’s a time when we feel almost abandoned. We hope people and the government will see what is happening,” James said.
Eric Clarke, chair of the WRHA board, says the decision became necessary because capacity at Cornwall Regional Hospital and Savanna-la-Mar Hospital exceeded 100%.
“The staff need time off, but we have full hospitals and we have to take care of the patients. It’s very difficult to balance the two,” Clarke said of the WRHA’s decision to suspend all annual leave in an interview with the gleaner Tuesday.