Private nurses not invited to COVID-19 preparations, says Society

The President of the newly formed Society of Private Nurses and Midwives (S.P.N.M.), June Scanlan-Lui, says the Ministry of Health has not asked the private healthcare workers to join COVID-19 response preparations.

Speaking ahead of the S.P.N.M. launch at Tanoa Tusitala Hotel on Friday evening, Ms. Scanlan-Lui said since the nation went into a state of emergency in March private nurses nor midwives have been invited to Government training or preparation meetings.

The Ministry of Health has been working actively to prepare Samoa for any outbreak of COVID-19, which has already claimed over 500,000 lives globally, including hosting training sessions by the Chinese medical volunteers on island, and from Chinese experts over video conferencing.

“We are never included in any trainings or discussions with the Ministry,” said Ms. Scanlan-Lui, a registered nurse and manager of her own clinic.

“There is no meeting for the health sector that includes the private nurses.”

Instead of waiting, private nurses are running outreach programmes in their own home villages on health education and understanding the COVID-19 risks, she said.

“Every nurse is going to their own village and trying to do activities in health education so that people in their own village will assist themselves, there are a lot of things that are already in place.”

The formation of a society for the private nurses will strengthen work like this, the new President added, as a forum where nurses and midwives can share ideas and help each other. 

In the midst of the measles epidemic in 2019, the Ministry of Health resources were stretched to capacity, and hundreds of medical assistance personnel arrived from around the world to help manage the response. 

At the time, the Samoa Association of General Practitioners (SAGP) stepped up to help and private doctors did their part to ease the burden on the hospital by taking on more non-measles patients but also joined the roster in the intensive care work for measles patients.

S.A.G.P. President Le Mamea Dr. Limbo Fiu said his association has been in conversations this year with both the Director General and the Minister of Health over how private practitioners can be part of any COVID-19 response. 

Ministry of Health Director General Leausa Dr. Take Naseri did not respond an email request for comment. 

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