According to the Finnish Association of Practical Nurses (SuPer), employees of the Tampere nursing home, where 13 people have died of the coronavirus since December, were not provided with adequate protective equipment.
SuPer blames the City of Tampere, which owns Tampere’s Rauhaniemi Hospital for the elderly, and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), which provides instructions for protective masks in care facilities.
The outbreak of the coronavirus at the facility began in early December, when staff were ordered back to work before the end of the exposure quarantines. It has now claimed the life of the 13th patient.
A total of 112 infections have been reported in nursing home patients and staff.
SuPer expert Eija Kemppainen He told Yle that he was very surprised to learn that his employer had said that all possible measures had been taken to prevent the virus from spreading.
"I don’t believe this, so I went to find out. According to the information I have received from the workers, there have been many shortcomings," Kemppainen cited as an example the difficulties that nursing staff have had in obtaining usable masks.
"We have been told that there are few respirators for FFP," he said.
In a blog post on the Union’s website, Kemppainen wrote that workers in nursing homes must be provided with the same protective equipment as hospital staff.
"Elderly care units treating coronavirus patients should be allowed to use the same personal protective equipment as in hospital care. The use of surgical respirators in the treatment of coronavirus patients is not sufficient and a suitable FFP respirator is required," Kemppainen wrote.
The employer refutes the allegations
Deputy CEO of the City of Tampere Lauri Seinelä rejected the union’s claims, saying that the staff had been provided with the right equipment in accordance with official instructions.
"Nursing staff have protective equipment in accordance with the instructions, which is used to treat coronavirus patients in special care and in Rauhaniemi," Seinelä said.
Sirpa Räsänen, An epidemiologist in the municipality of Tampere, told Yle that the protection of FFP is only needed in certain situations.
Räsänen added that the situation in Rauhaniemi has been discussed with the hospital district.
"In discussions with infectious disease physicians, we have stated that the use of FFP protectors does not resolve the situation," Räsänen said.
Fear among staff
SuPerin Kemppainen said the union members working at the department had written to the organization about their concerns.
"The staff is scared and upset, ”Kemppainen said.
Seinelä said the fear is understandable because many staff members have become infected, but added that someone has to take care of patients.
"According to the feedback I received, some of the staff have also been satisfied with the work. The situation is, of course, physically and mentally difficult," he added.
According to Kemppainen, however, the crux of the problem is in THL’s guidelines, which state that surgical mouth protection is sufficient to treat even a coronavirus-positive patient.
Yle has asked THL to comment on this guide, but has not yet received a response.
Kemppainen also criticizes the decision to recall staff before the end of the exposure quarantine. According to the City of Tampere, the decision was made because the hospital did not have enough staff to treat patients.
Source: The Nordic Page