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Nurses want building rewired after two fires
Nurses of the Couva Extended Care Psychiatric Facility are calling on the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) to rewire their building after two fires in the ceiling. The last one broke out more than a week ago and nothing was done to repair the scorched roof, the nurses said. Representative of the San Fernando branch of the Public Service Association (PSA), Ann George, said nurses were afraid there would be another fire that would burn down the entire building on Grant Street, Couva. The facility provides care to 43 psychiatric patients with a 60-member staff, comprising of nursing assistants, attendants, registered nurses and auxiliary staff. It was officially opened in 1982. George said the electrical wiring was so bad in the building that nurses were scared of another fire. “Couva Extended Care Facility is being neglected. The roof is falling apart, the security is poor and the lighting is poor. The South West Regional Health Authority is not doing enough. That entire building needs renovation,” George said.
A nurse at the facility said in April the first fire broke out in the locker room. She added: “This is affecting us badly. We are scared to be in this building. The machines in the building cannot work properly because there is not enough amperage to power it. It always sparking up and nobody taking us on when we complain,” the nurse said. She added that the lights always flicker and there was no generator for backup power. “This is a health hazard and there is no fire safety or smoke alarm to alert people if a fire should start. When current goes the entire building is dark because we have no generator. It is time that the CEO does something about this,” the employee added. Despite the sparks, the nurses said, there was no fire extinguishers in the building. The nurses said they planned to alert the Occupational Safety and Health Agency. “We will walk off this job if this matter is not addressed,” the nurse said. She added that recently a mentally ill patient attacked a nurse and there was no security officer to assist.
Responding to the nurses’ complaints yesterday, Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said: “I found out that there are three fire extinguishers and they would get a chemical extinguisher. I understand there was a minimal fire two weeks ago. The fire was as a result of a ballast which had a spark. This seems to be an instigation for whatever reason.” Regarding reports of low voltage, Khan said that had been checked out and was not true. Khan said he did not understand the nurses action. He added: “The SWRHA is working with staff, so I don’t understand unless there is an ulterior motive. I have been cautioned by the PSA about certain action I am taking to improve the health sector so, maybe this could be a result of that,” Khan added.
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