President of the Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association Idi Stuart said going from 50 to 100 ICU beds is weakening and reducing the quality of care among nursing personnel in addition to over 100 nurses have left their jobs in search of greener pastures abroad.
“You can’t double the bed space for ICU, you could double the beds but the quality of care obviously would not be the same,” Stuart said during an interview on TV6’s Morning Edition on Monday.
He said they have also received reports of nurses being stretched to 4 patients at a time which initially, is not the premise of ICU care as he said one on one care is now absent.
Stuart added that this may be in fact contributing to the increase in deaths. “That is why we are seeing an astronomical increase in deaths because we just don’t have that capacity,” he said. Mr. Stuart also called on the government and the Regional Health Authorities to show common courtesy to nurses as well as the union.
In response, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said a total of 25 Cuban nurses were hired to prevent burnout and assist on covid 19 wards. He noted that there are currently 100 registered nurses being trained with almost 200 recently completing training. Minister Deyalsingh was responding to questions in the Senate on Tuesday.
“The ratio of nurses to patients in Couva are as follows: In our ICU’s its one to two or one to three depending on how many patients occupy the 28 ICU beds, and in the HDU where there is a slightly lower level of care, it is one to four,” the minister explained.
He then made it clear that according to nurses on the ICU ward at the Couva Hospital and Multi-training Facility, the quality of care is not in any way compromised.
“In speaking to the general managers of nursing and to the nursing manager at Couva, they have assured me that the quality of care is not unduly compromised,” Minister Deyalsingh clarified.
When asked by Senator Wade Mark what then could have contributed to a rise in deaths of ICU patients, the Vice President of the Senate did not allow it.