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Staples help prolong the life of a face mask at Veracruz hospital. Staples help prolong the life of a face mask at Veracruz hospital.

Veracruz hospital workers battle Covid-19—and poor-quality equipment

Workers have bought their own N95 masks in light of the poor quality of the Chinese products

In Veracruz’s Covid-19 epicenter, health workers at one hospital say they are not just battling the contagious disease but also poor-quality personal protective equipment (PPE) that places them at increased risk of infection.

Health workers at the IMSS No. 14 High Specialty Medical Unit (UMAE) in Veracruz city told the newspaper Reforma that it has been a struggle to get any PPE at all but much of what they have received has been substandard.

“Since the [health] emergency started, it’s been difficult to deal with [IMSS] authorities to get equipment,” said one nurse.

“We had to protest twice so that they would pay attention to us. Then they finally gave us personal protective equipment but — what a surprise — it was of poor quality,” she said.

The nurse said that the medical goggles and Chinese-made face masks health workers received were not good quality, explaining that the masks tear easily. She also said that there is a lack of medical gloves at the hospital in the port city, where almost 40% of Veracruz’s 2,288 confirmed Covid-19 cases have been detected.

“If there are gloves, they’re large size ones. It’s very difficult to work with gloves that aren’t your size. It might seem like a little thing but it’s very hard to work like that,” the nurse said.

Due to the poor quality of the masks they were given, health workers have bought N95 masks using their own money and have even resorted to using staplers to repair damaged ones and thus extend the length of time they can be used, she said.

The nurse added that she and many of her colleagues have also had to purchase their own medical gowns.

As the healthcare staff have battled to save the lives of seriously ill Covid-19 patients, at least two of their colleagues have been infected and one of them lost his life to the disease.

An administrative worker died on Wednesday last week after testing positive for Covid-19, Reforma reported, and a nurse is hospitalized in a serious but stable condition.

The hospital also lacks other essential supplies such as rubbing alcohol and antibacterial gel, and some of the approximately 100 ventilators are faulty, a doctor said.

However, one thing the facility doesn’t lack is hospital beds, he said, explaining that 318 are currently available.

“Even though there are a lot of admissions, there are also a lot of deaths,” he said before questioning whether all Covid-19 fatalities are being reported by Veracruz health authorities.

“They’re not recording them properly; I think they lie in the statistics,” the doctor said.

According to the state government, 284 Covid-19 patients have died since the start of the pandemic, including 77 in Veracruz city.

However, the doctor claimed that there were more Covid-19 deaths at the UMAE during a two-day period earlier this month than those reported by the state Health Ministry for the entire city of Veracruz.

Despite the challenges and risks of working at the IMSS facility, one nurse responded bluntly when asked by Reforma whether she had considered “abandoning ship.”

“Abandon ship? Never! I love what I do and I feel happy to be able to help during this [pandemic].”

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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