| UITENHAGE

Old age home staff protest after patient deaths

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Staff refused to work after 11 of them tested positive for Covid-19 at a home in Uitenhage

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Protesting workers outside the Aandmymering Old Age Home in Uitenhage on Monday demanding PPE, testing of all staff and that the facility be fumigated. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

  • About 30 staff members at Aandmymering Old Age Home in Uitenhage protested on Monday for it to be deep cleaned.
  • Over 350 elderly people live at the home.
  • Eleven staff members tested positive for Covid-19 last week.
  • Management says staff received the necessary PPE on Friday which included bodysuits, plastic aprons, enough masks, sanitisers and bleach.

Over 30 staff members at Aandmymering Old Age Home in Uitenhage protested on Monday morning, demanding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and that the place be fumigated.

The staff, who care for over 350 elderly people at the home, also want all colleagues who tested positive for Covid-19 last week to be allowed to stay home.

The protesters, who included porters, healthcare workers, laundry workers, gardeners and general workers, sang and prayed in the institution’s yard before walking home. They said they will come back to work when the environment is conducive.

The protest was led by National Education, Health and Allied Union (NEHAWU), whose shop stewards confirmed that they demanded 11 colleagues at Aandmymering who had tested positive for Covid-19 be quarantined.

NEHAWU shop steward Xoliswa Nkosana said, “The 11 staff members tested positive for Covid-19 last week Monday. We told management to send the workers home and on Tuesday, they did send them home. However, this place was never fumigated.”

Nkosana raised concerns that those booked off with Covid-19 would not receive their full salaries at the end of the month. “The institution behaves as if nothing has happened and they treat the deaths related to Covid-19 as normal,” she said.

Worker Belinda Finnis said one of her colleagues was sent home after feeling sick and later tested positive for Covid-19. “Some of our colleagues are pregnant and may have spread the virus to their families … but are waiting for the results.”

When approached for comment, management of Aandmymering sent a security guard who identified herself as Ruvenia Smith to tell our reporter that management would on Tuesday respond to workers’ grievances.

On Tuesday, Lucia Smuts, national manager at the institution, in an email confirmed that two residents have died due to Covid-19.

She said the protesting staff had received the necessary PPE on Friday and it included bodysuits, plastic aprons, enough masks, sanitisers and disinfectant (Jik).

“Additional nursing staff were brought into the home on Monday. Family members also came in to assist with their loved-ones. They all went through the necessary screening. The residents with Covid-19 receive their meals at their doors and are in isolation and only two staff members per shift take care of them, with the necessary PPE. The rest of the home still get their food during all the meal times,” she said.

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