Frustrations Of A Ground Level Health Care Worker At Sarawak General Hospital — Burnt-Out HCW

By CodeBlue | 30 April 2020

There have been countless examples of HCWs being picked up as Covid-19 positive and ending up bringing down at least 10 more colleagues due to quarantine.

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I am writing this email with the intention of exposing the frustrations felt as a worker at ground level at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH). As you have known, yesterday was a day of exposé for SGH and this is just to add the story of our life at ground level.

From the start of the Covid-19 outbreak in Kuching, SGH has been led by an operations team (nicknamed ops room) in SGH consisting of administrators. The ops room has been the one deciding on hospital policies, standard operating procedures (SOPs), workflows etc in the hospital and relaying it to us via our superiors.

Cracks start to appear with the aforementioned case mentioned by the article on Malaysian Insight by “a concerned citizen”. Testing and quarantine of the health care workers were haphazard — all were asked to come back early despite having Day 13 swabs pending, ultimately leading to disaster, with spread among health care workers (HCWs) running rampant and quarantine of HCWs left, right, and centre.

Our HCWs’ quarantine centres were also allocated badly (for example: poor living conditions, fungus-infested rooms etc).

Things did not improve, however, and continued to spiral out of control as policies change daily like a person changing clothes.

We can go to sleep and wake up with a string of new messages detailing changes in hospital policy, and this is happening on a daily basis. Ward allocations are changing every day and we at ground level are asked to relocate from a different place to different place like refugees during a war. We are kicked out of our own wards without notice and asked to manage our department patients in a different ward.

All of us are also asked to go for swabs by ops room (claiming to be a hospital-wide screening programme), but were asked to go back to work despite not knowing our Covid status.

There have been countless examples of HCWs being picked up as positive and ending up bringing down at least 10 more colleagues due to quarantine.

So when the Health DG mentioned that people will be pulled in to cover us when we are in quarantine, it is not true and he is probably ill-informed (maybe there has been a cover-up by higher authorities).

We also heard rumours that people in the ops room and hospital directorates are spending more time bickering over small issues and squabbling, rather than deciding on a proper solution. Higher-ups spend more time squabbling over who gets to keep more wards for themselves and keeping themselves “clean”.

Pusat Jantung Sarawak administrators are also refusing to take our patients, despite being cleared of Covid, and refusing to send help over and instead are hoarding manpower and resources. We are seeing an unprecedented surge of armchair specialists who only know how to comment, bicker, and talk about who is more vulnerable and whose service is more important when everything is crumbling all around.

Being a health care worker at the ground level, we all feel abandoned, mistreated, and being sent out to die like the pawns that we are. If ever we are found positive, good luck to our teammates because it’s their turn to die on the frontlines with no reinforcements whatsoever.

I hope that my voice is just one of many voices who are crying out for help to whoever will listen.

We do not ask for help or reinforcements, but we only ask for justice and for someone to investigate our hospital as we are seeing too much mismanagement and this cannot be ignored.

I just want to take this opportunity to say that a lot of our workers (be it doctors, nurses, technicians, allied health) are all burnt out, afraid, and feel abandoned to die by our superiors during the outbreak, even though some of us are not frontliners in the war against Covid.

Burnt-Out HCW is a health care worker at Sarawak General Hospital. CodeBlue has allowed the use of a pseudonym for this letter because civil servants are generally not allowed to speak to the press.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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