Idi Stuart, President of the T&T Registered Nurses’ Association.

The Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) is “cautiously optimistic” following a meeting with the North West Regional Health Health Authority (NWRHA) in the wake of a third outbreak of COVID-19 among nursing staff in the old COSTAATT building at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital. 

The meeting was held with the NWRHA executives last Tuesday and included the acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Salisha Baksh. 

“The meeting remained cordial throughout, however, the association left being cautiously optimistic, however on a number of our concerns. It does not appear that it is within the ability for Ms Baksh to correct,” TTRNA president Idi Stuart told Guardian Media. 

He said coming out of the meeting was a promise by the NWRHA to install additional filters to the air conditioning units and to install ultra-violet lights to kill viral particles. 

However, he noted one of their main suggestions is outside the remit of the regional health authority and the association intends to raise it with the Ministry of Health. 

The association called for the continuous testing of nursing and medical staff for the virus along with any patients being warded at the hospital. However, this is against the national policy for COVID-19 testing. 

“The national policy is basically, you have to be showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or being in contact with known positive cases.

“So this would inhibit them from performing this continuous testing.

“So that is something we’d have to bring up with the Ministry of Health for them to address,” he said. 

Within the past three weeks, some 25 nursing staff and other medical staff assigned to the old COSTAATT building were sent on immediate quarantine leave.

At least five have since tested positive along with three patients. Stuart described the incident as “untenable.” 

Speaking during a ministry’s virtual press conference last Wednesday, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said they viewed the development as serious and as a result convened a meeting with all Regional Health Authorities CEOs. 

“We view this so seriously that yesterday (Tuesday) morning, at 8.30, myself, the CMO and the PS met with all CEO’S across the board…to discuss the issue and to come up with solutions to make sure what happens in Port-of-Spain isn’t replicated across the health care system,” Deyalsingh said then.