The staff of the main hospital in Leticia, a town in the most southern part of Colombia, stopped working on Monday, claiming they lack guarantees to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to the director of the San Rafael hospital, the doctors and nurses said that the lack of personal protection equipment makes it impossible for them to work without becoming a health risk themselves.
There are no biosecurity guarantees to provide healthcare, nor are there guarantees for support services, which is a general contagion risk. There are no necessary provisions and equipment to provide care. There are no guarantees of payment for healthcare.
San Rafael hospital staff
The staff said they would only be available for emergency cases, but would not treat any possible coronavirus cases.
The rebellion at the San Rafael hospital is the second in Colombia and leaves the border city with only one hospital, the much smaller Leticia Foundation Clinic, to deal with possible coronavirus infections.
The western city of Quibdo all but closed its main hospital a few days ago when an outbreak of the coronavirus among personnel forced the quarantine of almost all who worked at the hospital.
The doctors and nurses in Leticia ignored a controversial decree issued by President Ivan Duque that forced hospital staff to work and has been blasted by the Colombian Medical Federation (FMC).
The FMC withdrew its confidence in Health Minister Fernando Ruiz last week, claiming the government has failed to keep its word to provide the necessary personal protection equipment to hospitals that would allow health workers to attend the pandemic.
The government of President Ivan Duque has been struggling to deal with a crisis that is putting a major strain on the country’s healthcare system, which had already been weakened by decades of corruption.
Duque vowed to inject $1.5 billion into the country’s healthcare system in March, but according to the FMC this has not resulted in the hospital’s ability to purchase basic protection gear like masks.