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NCRHA CEO Davlin Thomas

The North Central Regional Health Authority’s chief executive officer Davlin Thomas is rubbishing claims on social media that half of the staff assigned to the Eric William’s Medical Sciences Complex is in quarantine leading to excess strain on the remaining staffers.

In response to questions from Guardian Media, Thomas confirmed that staffers were in quarantine—but nowhere near “half.”

He said out of some 765 members of nursing staff, 25 were on quarantine—less than 3.5 per cent of the staff.

“Based on the current protocols, once a staff member displays sign and symptoms, they are assessed by Industrial Med and as a precaution, they are quarantined for seven days pending results. After which, Industrial Med will follow up again and based on results, it is determined whether they are fit to return to work or continue on quarantine,” he said in a WhatsApp response.

Thomas also denied claims that there would be a shortage of staff on the public holidays because of the extended curfew hours limiting modes of transport for nursing personnel. He said there was 90 per cent attendance yesterday with only nine absentees.

In an interview with Guardian Media yesterday, the president of the T&T Registered Nurses’ Association Idi Stuart said healthcare workers continue to be exposed to COVID-19 in the course of performing their duties. One of the reasons, he offered, was instances where nursing personnel are being utilised interchangeably between COVID-19 treatment and general settings which heightens the risk of cross-infections.

“What we are beginning to see nationally too is the blurring of the line between the parallel healthcare system and the general healthcare system,” he said.

However, Thomas denied that this was occurring.

“Nurses were specifically reassigned to COVID-19 institutions and there were some who volunteered to go, so there’s no interchange,” he said.

Stuart also said contributing to the exposure of healthcare personnel to the virus is the delay in receiving test results for patients who need to be admitted to the wards where staff aren’t equipped with the required level of personal protective equipment to treat those infected.

“That has been happening since the beginning of this COVID fight in March 2020. That is the reason why the association would have recommended that the rapid antigen tests be employed. It is of no real purpose in terms of infection prevention and control to be getting back a result four, five, seven days after the fact- the patient would have been admitted,” Stuart said.

“By that time that patient would have already interacted with the nursing staff, would have already interacted with some other patients and these patients are the type of population we don’t want to be exposed to COVID-19.”