• December 1st, 2020

Cleaner battles Covid-19 stigma… despite risking her life, she faces discrimination

A hospital cleaner endured stigma after putting her life on the frontline for two weeks to clean a patient’s room who tested positive for Covid-19 last month, joining the ranks of millions of health workers in the world whose selfless efforts have received worldwide praise and salutations.  

The cleaner, who requested anonymity to avoid further stigma, said the patient was among those who tested early for the virus in the country but has since recovered and been discharged.
“When he was released, he told us he was thankful and that we helped him very well,” the brave hospital cleaner shared.
The cleaner, alongside six nurses, were accommodated in individual rooms at the hospital facility in isolation for two weeks while attending to the coronavirus patient during which they were not allowed to get in personal contact with the public or family members.

They further spent another two weeks in quarantine after the patient was discharged from hospital.
However, the cleaner told New Era through a telephonic interview she suffered ill-treatment from her colleagues upon their release as if they contracted Covid-19 while in contact with the patient. 
“Even the day we were released from quarantine, some colleagues were covering their nose and keeping a distance,” said the emotional cleaner, who said she needs counselling.

The cleaner said some of her colleagues once ran away when they saw her coming down using a dedicated elevator to discard off trash into a vehicle that took it to the incinerator. “I need counselling. My colleagues are treating us like we have the virus and creating unfounded stories,” shared the cleaner.
Hours before the elderly patient was admitted at a local hospital in an isolated room, the cleaner was asked to clean and prepare the room for a new patient, not knowing the patient had tested positive for the dreaded Covid-19.
The cleaner was asked by a matron to look for a colleague with whom to be cleaning the patient’s room for the two weeks but her fellow cleaners completely refused and accused her of wanting to ‘kill’ them by asking them to clean the patient’s room. 

The cleaner said she informed her family before taking up the request and her husband cautioned her against the risk but that she should pray throughout.
She recalled, when the patient arrived in his room, he disclosed to her that he had coronavirus. 
“He also told me to tell my colleagues,” said the cleaner.

During the two weeks that the patient was under treatment, the cleaner said she wore three personal protective equipment gears, six gloves, goggles and face masks.

 “There were a lot of protective gears to wear,” she informed New Era.
She added their temperatures were also tested every morning when reporting for duty and when they finished work.
She said the patient used foam cups and plates, which were discarded in a trash bag in his room after use and then immediately taken to the incinerator with other rubbish to be burnt. The cleaner added the rubbish was also placed into three refuse bags before being discarded.
The cleaner further said she used a separate mop and broom to clean the patient’s room, which did not leave the room at all, and it was also not elsewhere around the ward. She stated there were different mops to clean the corridors and other areas.

“After cleaning the patient’s room, I removed the top gear with the assistance of a nurse and discard it immediately in the bin and wore a new one. I also removed the two pairs of gloves, discarded them and replaced them with new ones,” she explained.

 She added that when people brought them food, they would not come in contact with them.
 “They knocked on the door and left the plate of food at the door,” said she cleaner.
The cleaner told this publication that this was her service to the country and she willingly dedicated her time to serve the patient. The cleaner has since reunited with her family after discharge from quarantine.
– sikela@nepc.com.na 


Selma Ikela
2020-04-16 10:19:39 | 7 months ago

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