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Belize City, Saturday, April 11th, 2020

The KHMHA Workers Union sends out our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the deceased and those affected by the wreaking havoc of this COVID 19 pandemic.

The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority (KHMHA) Workers Union in unison with the Belize Medical and Dental Association (BMDA) hereby condemns the manner in which the KHMHA Administration has compromised the safety and well-being of the frontline workers in the face of this pandemic.

In this regard, we also condemn the information made public by the both Releases sent out by the Ministry of Health through the Belize Press Office and the Public Relations Office from the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority. Such information is contradictory and misleading!

1. TEST RESULTS: The patient who was transferred from a private medical facility, as per the Belize Press Office Release indicated that two (2) tests performed proved inconclusive. The KHMHA Release states that both tests were negative. Actual checks performed by the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) staff revealed that only one result was reported in the Belize Health Information System (BHIS). Despite questions made to the attending physician at the ICU regarding the missing result of the second test, no response was forthcoming up to 5pm on the day of Thursday, April 9th, 2020. The major concern here is that there was no proper hand-over from the private facility personnel to the KHMHA’s Emergency department. The KHMHA therefore, erred in accepting and transferring the patient to the ICU without following critical care protocols and recently established COVID 19 protocols for patients showing signs of respiratory distress. This was paramount since the case was of a Person Under Investigation (PUI). This shows a major breach of the healthcare reporting system amongst our own system, the Private Sector and the Public Sector which has now compromised the services of the nation’s sole tertiary healthcare provider and the health and stability of our frontline healthcare workers.

2. PPEs: The Belize Press Office and the KHMHA’s Release made mention of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) used by the staff at the Accident & Emergency (A&E) and ICU units. Actual checks with the staff who came in first contact with Patient #10 revealed that many used a mere surgical face mask and gloves at A&E, the same were used at the ICU with a linen gown which is standard protocol at ICU. Limited N95 masks and surgical gowns were provided to the ICU staff upon the patient’s admission. The KHMHA Workers Union hereby condemns the fact that proper PPEs were not provided to the staff in a timely manner and for the purpose they were designated for. These PPEs are claimed to be held under lock and key due to the fear of wastage by the staff, even in the struggles of this COVID 19 pandemic.

As mentioned in a previous Press Release dated March 5th, 2020, the general consensus of the staff was and remains that this Administration has failed to follow the established protocols in regards to Occupational Safety and International Standards in the workplace at the KHMHA. The failure to adhere to safety standards has brought upon our staff and patients unwarranted stress. This has also drastically increased risk of cross-contamination in cases of patient to staff, staff to in-patients, staff to family, relatives and friends in the community.

Furthermore, the areas of the hospital now compromised due to direct exposure are the Accident & Emergency and the Intensive Care Unit. Possible further compromise of other areas include the Labour & Delivery, Operating Theatre and Radiology since all these operate under a centralized air conditioning system known as the “Chillers”.
Making reference to the KHMHA’s faulty plan of action questioned by the KHMHA Workers Union from its creation, external assessments and recommendations therein contained clearly stated that if any extension needed for COVID 19 related cases, that the sole ICU Unit in the entire country of Belize, should at all times be guarded and preserved away from potential threats of the pandemic. In this regard, the Administration failed miserably.

The KHMHA Workers Union hereby demands the immediate and complete closure of the ICU unit and that in-patients be relocated elsewhere for intensive care management. Also, that thorough sanitary and corrective measures be conducted on all units possibly compromised with immediate effect.

As advocates of the multi-cultural staff employed at the hospital, the KHMHA Workers Union hereby expressly state that the staff has lost all trust and confidence in this present KHMHA Administration which comprises of the Chief Executive Officer and her immediate Management Team.

The KHMHA Workers Union hereby demand from the higher authorities in the Ministry of Health and the KHMHA Board of Governors that a full investigation be conducted on the recent decisions undertaken by the KHMHA Administration. As per the KHMHA Act, the hospital is a Statutory Body, the responsibility of the Board is to function as the principal policy making organ of the Authority and as such they are tasked to oversee the actions taken by the Administration. Upon such investigation, we further demand the subsequent removal of anyone found in breach of established protocols and guidelines as they have failed to act in good faith, failed to exercise good judgment and failed to execute the duty of care owed to the employees of the KHMHA.
In conclusion, KHMHA Workers Union further demands that any and all culprits be held accountable under the full extent of the applicable Laws in Belize

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