Cape Town – The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) has accused Tygerberg Hospital of having no empathy for its employees following a circular prohibiting any memorial services for nursing staff who died due to Covid-19-related illnesses.
The union said it was outraged when its members received the circular, which cited regulations by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Provincial Health spokesperson Mark van der Heever said management was consulting with staff to find a way forward to ensure acceptable solutions in striking a balance between safety and honouring staff.
He said gatherings at the workplace were only permitted within the parameters of current lockdown regulations. “We need to adhere to restricting gatherings at workplaces.
"This, however, does not mean memorial services should not be held. It does, however, require each institution to manage the situation and keep within the 50 persons,” Van der Heever said.
Denosa provincial secretary Danver Roman said the hospital’s action was “another power tactic to show who’s got the power”.
He likened the hospital to a burning pot of Covid-19 as the majority of nurses who died as a result of the virus came from Tygerberg Hospital.
“A fellow nurse died and staff want to have a memorial service, which they did for other nurses under lockdown levels 4 and 5. What makes level 3 different?
“It is also interesting that the circular came out at a time when the court declared parts of the lockdown and disaster management act unconstitutional. It indicates that management are devoid of empathy.
“We can only infer that nurses are regarded as the lowest form of life and not worth having feelings for fellow nurses that died.
“The best employee-assistance programme intervention to deal with the psychological effects of death is a memorial service. This is especially so because staff are not allowed to go to the funeral,” said Roman.
In a breakdown of the infections, Van der Heever said Tygerberg had 293, with 178 recoveries while Groote Schuur had 169 infections of health-care staff, with 98 recoveries.
The Employment and Labour Department is set to carry out an inspection at the hospital today after the Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA and the Federation of Unions of SA called for the Tygerberg Hospital to shut down.
Employment and Labour Department spokesperson Candice van Reenen said a joint site inspection would be “to test the effectiveness of the risk assessment and control measures”.