Colombia’s hospitals unprepared for coronavirus, personnel working under threat: federation

(Image by SajoR) [CC BY-SA 2.5], from Wikimedia Commons

Colombia’s hospitals are grossly unprepared to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Medical personnel who have wanted to expose this have been threatened or fired, according to the country’s medical federation.

In an online press conference, the Colombian Medical Federation said that hospitals are not just unequipped to deal with the pandemic, but that medical personnel are working under conditions that threaten their health, and that of their families and patients, according to a poll among more than 900 doctors and nurses.

There is expression of anguish, anxiety, sadness, lack of desire to go to work and a feeling of abandonment by the state. There are firings, deterioration of contractual conditions, decreased income, greater instability, and a feeling of frustration due to the indifference of Colombian society to which the efforts of health personnel are dedicated, in conditions that put the health and life of this human talent at risk.

Colombian Medical Federation

In some cases, doctors and nurses were threatened with terrorism charges if they revealed the situation in the hospitals, according to FMC director Sergio Isaza.

Medical personnel have additionally seen mass layoffs of colleagues who complained about the dire work conditions.

“What this shows is that the feeling the professionals have is that we are very badly prepared to be able to confront this pandemic at this point,” said FMC executive Roberto Baquero.

How badly prepared Colombia’s hospitals are

Almost 60% of the health workers said their hospital was either not or under equipped to attend patients who are or could be infected, according to the FMC poll. Only 13% of the medical workers said their hospital was well prepared.

None of the polled academics and scholars said their hospital was well prepared.

Intensive care units are not controlled by the hospital, but notoriously corrupt health intermediaries, who could ban doctors from using them, according to the FMC.

The health workers reported that half of the hospitals don’t have enough basic masks. Only 2.3% of the first respondents said their hospital had enough N95 masks, leaving almost all health workers at high risk of infection.

The hospitals of almost 93% of health workers did not have sufficient protective clothing, said Baquero, exclaiming that “this is absurd.”


Medical supply deficiencies

Source: Colombian Medical Federation

What protocol?

More than a month after the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Colombia, almost 80% of the hospitals still don’t have a protocol in place on how to treat patients who are infected or suspected of being infected.

Almost half of the health workers whose hospital does have a protocol said it was inadequate.

No hospital has a protocol on how to deal with infected personnel, according to the poll that was responded by medical personnel from 27 of Colombia’s 32 provinces and Bogota‘s capital district.

The FMC’s poll results followed physicians’ claims that the government of President Ivan Duque is presenting inaccurate statistics on the actual spread of the coronavirus in Colombia.

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