IN PHOTO ABOVE (left standing) SWRHA CEO Dr. Armour speaks to persons at the meeting (furthest right sitting with face mask) DHV Corey Dillon Lead Staff Representative TTRNA
MEETING HELD WITH SWRHA RE: COVID 19 PREPAREDNESS AND ACTIVIES
A meeting was held on Tuesday 21st April 2020 @ 1pm between the Management of SWRHA and the Unions. Present on behalf of SWRHA were: CEO Dr. Armour, Ms. Thomas General Manager Human Resources, Mrs. Tuitt Human Resource (Industrial Relations) Officer and Mrs. Elbourne General Manager Nursing. The representing unions present were: The Public Services Association (PSA), Unified Health Sector Workers Union (UHSWU), Medical Practitioners Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MPATT), Health Sector Workers Union (HSWU) and Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA).
The matters discussed and proposed solutions are as follows:
· The employment status of persons are to be regularized ie: persons who are on contract and a eligible for permanency same will be done as well as persons on 3 & 6 month contracts will be given 3 year contracts. This is to be completed shortly as the process began before the COVID 19 pandemic began.
· The issue of nursing pool/overtime was discussed and it was stated that there are approximately 1200 nurses employed with SWRHA but approximately 1600 positions available. The CEO wants to employ more nurses but to do so he needs a reduction in the pool bill. He acknowledges the shortage and the need for pool but believes that line managers (head nurses and Patient Care Coordinators) as well as the pool manager needs to do their part to reduce the bill. Approximately 100 newly graduated nurses have been interviewed and will be hired if a 20% savings in the pool/overtime can be achieved.
· All persons whose increments are not up to date same will be done in short order, starting with those members of staff who are working with suspected or confirmed COVID 19 patients eg A&E Department, Medical Extension one (1) etc.
· Proposed hazard allowance to be taken forward to ministry level.
· A life insurance in amount one million five hundred thousand ($1,500,000) for frontline staff was proposed in the meeting. This figure was proffered as a similar amount is available elsewhere in the public service. The CEO was not adverse to same and said same will be included in the proposal for the hazard allowance to be sent to the Ministry of Health for consideration.
· Hand soap and paper towel supply to be monitored to ensure adequate distribution as areas not designated as COVID 19 areas are having difficulty receiving adequate stock. Same to be investigated and rectified.
· The delay in receiving COVID 19 test results was discussed. This was partly due to the fact that CARPHA was not testing on weekends. They are now testing on weekends. It was stated that within 2 weeks the SWRHA will have its own PCR machine and all the relevant infrastructure to begin testing so this situation will be resolved.
· Testing of healthcare workers working with COVID 19 patients was discussed. It was noted that over 60 tests were conducted and only has come back positive. It is a testament of our adherence to proper IPC protocols.
· 3 COVID 19 areas to be commissioned in the SWRHA catchment area by the Ministry of Health namely: The Home of Football in Couva, Augustus Long Hospital Point-a-Pierre and UWI Debe Campus. Staff are being asked to volunteer to work at these facilities. The nature and function of these facilities are being changed regularly as the situation is very fluid the CEO stated. It was stated that staff will need clarity before a decision to volunteer is made. Some of these facilities will require staff to live in for a period of time then be quarantined for a period of time subsequently.
· There was concerns raised about the quality of the hazmat suit and we were informed that an order has been made for a better quality suit and same will be available within the next 2 weeks.
· Any member of staff who has to be quarantined as a result of occupational exposure to COVID 19, same will be classified as injury leave. Staff who are unable to come to work due to extenuating circumstances as a result of the pandemic eg. childcare are to discuss same with line manager who has been empowered by memo dated March 16th 2020 to make the necessary arrangements for the staff to be facilitated. This request must be done in writing. The issue of pandemic leave is still being discussed at the cabinet level with respect to hospital/essential staff and as such leave cannot be granted under this category at this present time.
· The issue of the 40hr work week was raised, as a recent memo was circulated to staff about same. It was not fully ventilated (as it was not on the agenda for this meeting) but a date and time for a meeting to be held this issue will be facilitated by the CEO as he is aware of TTRNA’s request for a meeting on same.
We want to publicly thank the CEO and his team for meeting with us, as we know that now is a very busy time for management of health care institutions.
We are also eagerly looking forward to the date to meet and treat with the issue of the 40 hour work week which has, is and continues to be the premier issue affecting our members.
Lead Staff Representative