The increase of patients and flock of people who wanted to be tested for COVID-19 are posing a challenge to medical front-line workers already suffering from fatigue as the country continues to battle another wave of infection.
Front-liners in the medical field has been called heroes for the pandemic battle which started in South Korea in January last year. Despite their title, poor working scenarios and the bulk of work for healthcare workers have not been fully addressed.
The Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union (KHMWU) said that medical workers are exerting more hours and nights as manpower runs short and deficient medical equipment. They are putting their lives at stake in looking after COVID-19 facilities.
On June 22, a survey was provided by the union which polled members of 102 medical centers across the nation.
Some of the responses said: “We are provided with substandard and poorly fitting personal protective equipment;” “Protective gowns can be easily torn or ripped, so we sometimes have to staple them.”
There is also one who said: “Once I was completely exhausted after tending to a dialysis patient for over four hours while wearing protective clothing. I couldn’t change my shift with anyone, as we are too understaffed.”
The lack of manpower is continually becoming a burden for the medical workers, the union argued, as the government adds more hospital beds but does not augment the workforce.
The same scenario is also experienced by public health center employees who handle COVID-19 testing as well as epidemiological analysis on top of the vaccination rollout.
On June 29, a public petition was uploaded to Cheong Wa Dae website demanding the government to address the poor working conditions at treatment and testing facilities, The Korea Times reported.
“Nurses have been suffering from excessive workloads since the COVID-19 outbreak, and things have worsened since the vaccine rollout,” the petitioner from Busan, who said to have served at a public health center as a nurse, wrote.