The surge in the number of COVID-19 cases has led to the breakdown of healthcare systems and an increase in case fatality rates across the country. As both private and government hospitals are reporting a shortage of staff that has crippled their services, COVID-19 experts have underlined the need to motivate the healthcare workforce so that they stay dedicated to their profession during this pandemic.
The Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes’ Association (PHANA) recently revealed that private hospitals are facing a 30% shortage of doctors and overall 50% shortage of nurses and ward boys. The situation is no different in government hospitals, where staff shortage is a perennial problem. While a sizeable chunk in both the private and government hospitals have been infected and hence are off duty, several have just quit their work fearing they will get infected.
“Taking care of human resources is more important than mobilising additional beds and other infrastructure, which the government can acquire easily,” said Giridhara R. Babu, member of the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee.
In a tweet, Dr. Babu said: “Ensuring the motivation of the healthcare workforce is non-negotiable. Mere words do not mean anything. Contrary to this, healthcare workers have become the victims of discrimination. It is time to overhaul human resources with oxygen of reforms; otherwise, ventilators don’t help.”
C.N. Manjunath, Director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, who is also the nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force said there is a need for a dedicated COVID-19 hospital for healthcare workers.
“With several workers from hospitals themselves testing positive, we should either have a dedicated facility in the hospital itself to isolate and treat them or there should be a dedicated single hospital in every city/town. In Jayadeva nearly 80 of our staff have tested positive and we admitted them into cardiac rehabilitation centre located in a separate block on our premises,” he said.
Stating that motivation begins from giving them adequate protective gear and other safety measures, the doctor said, “They should be tested if they have come in contact with a positive person or show symptoms. This will give them confidence that the institution is taking care of them.” He said that there should be in-house COVID-19 advisory committees to build confidence among the staff. “The employees should be convinced that the institute that they are working for will support them and their families in case they get infected,” Dr. Manjunath added.
Dr. Babu said he had submitted a proposal to the government with suggestions to ensure a motivated workforce. The State government should announce a term insurance of ₹2 crore for every health worker who might die due to COVID-19, he said.
Setting up dedicated hospitals and beds for healthcare workers including provision of entire medical expenditure, additional incentives on a daily basis, generous payment for part-time workers and resting period at regular intervals are among the suggestions, he added.