The RA meets four of the nurses who work on SUS ward 4G, a medical ward crowded with critically ill lung and cancer patients. They wish to remain anonymous because they want to protect their business status, but they believe the public should know what is going on in their department.
SUS has had the opportunity to confront the nurses’ statements. The answer from SUS is further down in the article.
Lung patients become seriously ill with the Corona virus
– Now the elastic is stretched for a long time. We really care about patient safety. Seriously ill lung patients lie in the corridor in the same ward as the COVID-19 patients. We had an infection, the caregivers say.
Due to the increase in corona infection in the community, corona patients must be introduced to 4G. The cancer department of the SUS itself is exempt from having patients with coronavirus. Although 50 percent of fourth-generation patients have cancer, the ward is not exempt from COVID-19 patients.
The department has overcrowded rooms, and the rooms are not suitable for infection management.
– The room used as a group is two meters away from the department’s kitchen. Patients must also leave the group room to go to the toilet. There is no lock. All dressing is done in the hallway. Nurses say staff are moving between different patients, both infected with the virus and others with lung problems.
Working in two shifts
– Staff must work in two shifts, preferably from 7:00 am to 22:00 pm, or from 2.30 to 07.30. Employees work double shifts several times a week. You are not as sharp after many hours of work, and we believe this can affect patient safety. We are afraid of making mistakes. There is sick leave among staff, and we are allowed to go to work even if we have the virus, if you only have mild symptoms, said the nurses the RA met with.
– In this way, it is not a strange two-shift phenomenon, but when you also have to wear infection equipment for 17 hours, it eats away.
– Patients have become things
They feel that patients are no longer treated as human beings.
– Patients have become things. Rules and infection considerations are constantly being neglected due to the limited space in the hospital. Often the message is “Now we just have to do it this way” or “Now everything is thrown out by the rules, there are just too many patients in the ED that have to go to the wards”.
Fellows who have told the RA agree that:
– It’s a miracle that things didn’t go wrong.
– If we were not a group of experienced nurses who supported each other and were able to anticipate things or spot near misses, we believe that what is happening now in the ward could have led to disastrous consequences.
Uses pyrotechnic goggles
Hospital staff also feel there is a shortage of infection control equipment. They are often required to use disposable glasses.
– Right now we have to wear fireworks goggles, which, in fact, should be used for eye protection when rockets are fired on New Year’s Eve, says one of the nurses.
– Quit a lot
Nurses say many of their colleagues are quitting.
– it is a pity. Ergonomics is good, but the work pressure is great. For many, it will be too much. They go to other departments of the SUS, to the municipality or retrain. It’s sad that so many quit, but there are limits to what one can take.
– We have a good department head who makes the best of the situation. The problem is higher in the system. Another adds: I don’t think the hospital management understands the urgency of the situation really.
According to the nurses, the patients did not react to the conditions of the ward.
– I don’t think they really know what’s going on around them. Someone says that many people take patients’ safety for granted when they are in the hospital.
Nurses want the SUS to have its own epidemiological record, as it did in the hospital during the Corona pandemic.
This is the response by SUS
Management claims were made at Stavanger University Hospital by nurses whom the RA met, and asked to answer a large number of questions about the situation in the hospital and the operation of the 4G ward.
The hospital chose to respond in an email, rather than to questions put to them. The head of the medical department, Inger Johanne Fatnes Bø, told RA in an email that there are a large number of respiratory infections among the population now, and the number of admissions is increasing.
This is also why the hospital implemented a green alert on Sunday last week. On Thursday evening, the Alert Level changed to yellow.
Here is the response from SUS by Inger Johanne Fatnes Bø in its entirety:
There is a wide range of respiratory infections in the population now, and the number of admissions is increasing. This was also why the hospital implemented a green alert on Sunday night.
The situation we are in now demands a lot from those in the business. They’ve been in a rough run for a long time now, and I completely understand that staff find this stressful. They do their best to provide the best possible healthcare to their patients.
Many hospitalized patients require a private room and isolation. It is challenging our capacity when we have a large patient influx and many patients that need to be isolated. We are now in a situation where we need rooms, and we have to adapt our facilities.
Today, about 50 patients are hospitalized with covid-19, and about twenty patients are hospitalized with seasonal influenza and the RS virus. In addition, there are other groups of patients who need isolation.
When we have no more private rooms, we create group groups in the respective sections. This is assessed based on patients’ medical needs – and is in line with hospital planning. The fact that these same people treat their patients contributes to good patient safety. They receive visits and care from staff who know the diagnosis and patient population well.
The influx of patients has been significant over time. This also applies to 4G. Patients who come to us need urgent help, and many of them need immediate treatment. The medical department had too few beds to handle this influx, and patients are being put in corridors.
Employees in 4G and other medical jobs do not take into account crowding. Access to additional staff is also limited. In order to have proper operations separate personnel should be employed.
We are following national guidelines when it comes to infection control. This states that employees should stay home in the event of new respiratory symptoms if they feel ill. They should stay home until they have recovered from the fever for 24 hours and are better. The remaining symptoms such as runny nose, mucus, hoarseness and some coughing are fine.
Infection prevention equipment used in a hospital, and this also applies to safety glasses, is approved for use in patient care.
Nurses Union: – I’m glad the nurses are notifying
The Norwegian Nurses Association is aware of the conditions in the lung ward. Company representative Gunn Elin Rossland told RA that the union has asked SUS management for an explanation of how they are handling the current situation.
On a daily basis, nurses face situations beyond what is reasonable. This is the opinion of the association. Nurses feel that they cannot handle the job as they would like. This makes them upset and afraid. It is unsatisfactory to work this way. The nurses are frustrated. This is exhausting work that Rosland says many quit.
She praises the nurses for notifying them.
When we work in the health care system, it is our duty to speak up. The nurses did everything right.
Rosland advises nurses in the pulmonary department and all departments in the SUS to document deviations.
It is important to document what they encounter in writing and to put deviations in order.
Rosland understands the capacity and resource challenges at the hospital.
– One thing is what is justified in theory. Nurses are the ones who see what works in practice. Hospital management should be happy to have their staff give notice, Rossland concludes.
A patient representative shares the concern
Rogaland’s chief ombudsman for patients and users, Gro Snortheimsmoen Bergfjord, says she shares the nurses’ concerns.
– We follow. On a private level, I’ve heard of patients who contracted the coronavirus and became ill while they were in the hospital. But I am not aware of any recent cases on this subject. We will follow closely if we receive inquiries, says Snortheimsmoen Bergfjord.
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