Coronavirus
Health workers protest Friday in Acapulco. Health workers protest Friday in Acapulco.

Healthcare workers protest shortages of supplies in at least three states

Hospital staff demand face masks, gowns, gloves, ventilators and other equipment

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More doctors and nurses at hospitals across the country have joined the protests to demand adequate supplies and staff to treat patients with Covid-19.

Hospital staff in several México state municipalities protested earlier this week to denounce the inadequacies in their stocks of face masks, gowns, gloves, ventilators and other equipment necessary to treat a Covid-19 outbreak.

And according to medical personnel in Veracruz, Guerrero and Sonora, the problem is not unique to México state.

Román, a nurse who protested outside a Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) hospital in Veracruz city on Friday morning, said ethically they cannot not stop treating patients, but they need to be protected in order to do so.

He said that without sufficient personal protection equipment, “we risk our lives, those of our families and those of the people in society whom we treat.”

He and others at the protest demanded gowns, face masks, face shields, goggles, disinfectant and other supplies.

“At the beginning of our shifts, they give us some gloves that don’t work,” said nurse Jazmín Ramírez.

IMSS hospital staff in Acapulco, Guerrero, also protested outside their facility on Friday morning.

“Here in this institution we are the ones who are most in contact with these patients [infected with Covid-19] and [protection] protocols are not being followed as they should be,” said nurse Hugo Edwin Pérez Radilla.

The head nurse at Acapulco’s Vicente Guerrero hospital, Estefania Vargas, confirmed that the majority of those protesting are treating patients unprotected.

“We are orderlies, janitors, lab techs, nutritionists, nurses, doctors, radiologists and we’re all at risk by not having adequate equipment,” she said.

Doctors, nurses and other health workers mount a roadblock in Veracruz.
Doctors, nurses and other health workers mount a roadblock in Veracruz.

The medical workers in Acapulco likewise assured the public that they would not strike or otherwise halt treatment.

In Sonora, Health Minister Enrique Clausen saw backlash to a video in which he called on medical students in their fourth semester or later to unite in “the war against Covid-19,” claiming the crisis is a good chance to prove to themselves that the medical field is their calling.

Doctors and nurses in the state took their protest online, posting photos of themselves holding signs with the hashtag #LaVocaciónNoMeProtege (The calling does not protect me) to draw attention to the similar lack of supplies in their state and the government’s failure to solve the problem.

“We’re here, we’re going to keep working. We’re worried about our people, but we can’t do it simply because we’ve been called to do it, … we need personal protection equipment to protect ourselves and the public,” a medical resident who joined the online protest told the news website La Silla Rota.

Preferring not to give his last name, Luis said the majority of the 200 resident doctors in Sonora are located in poor rural villages far from big cities or isolated mountain towns that receive little support, and usually of poor quality when they do.

“Many rural health centers do not have adequate equipment, face masks, hand sanitizer, gloves,” he said, adding that what they do have is “of poor quality, for example, face masks that don’t really cover anything.”

With respect to the health minister’s call to medical students to join in treating Covid-19 patients, Luis did not agree and said that there are more than enough out-of-work licensed general practitioners who could help.

“I think it’s wrong for the health minister to risk using the students. He said those from fourth semester on, but we really just have basic knowledge. We’ve seen patients, but only passingly,” he said.

“There are shortages in all of the [state’s] health clinics and we’re asking Minister Enrique Clausen to … help us with this. We want to protect our health and that of our families,” he said.

Health workers aren’t the only ones protesting the lack of supplies in their hospitals. Residents in Morelos threatened to burn their hospital down earlier this week if it accepted Covid-19 patients, claiming it is not sufficiently stocked or staffed to deal with coronavirus cases.

Sources: Milenio (sp), La Silla Rota (sp)

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