Filthy canteen tables, serious understaffing and a constantly increasing pile of work is plaguing some halls of Mater Dei hospital, workers have told Lovin Malta.
“Honestly, we’re just drowning in work,” one person opened up. “And when it’s not us, it’s colleagues in other departments. If one person is sick, we instantly stop managing to keep up.”
“Not a day goes by where one of our team doesn’t need to help the other teams,” another continued.
The issue seems to have stemmed from the necessary exercise of reshuffling staff and repurposing wards as Malta’s hospital deals with more COVID-19 cases.
Mater Dei’s physiotherapy team, for example, was allocated a place in front of the hospital’s old canteen, which has now been practically turned into a ward. But this has created a separate, just-as-worrying issue; hygiene within the hospital’s workforce.
“When you’re understaffed and having a long day, the least you’d want and expect is a decent and clean place to sit down and have a break.”
The result, however, seems to be anything but, with photos sent in to Lovin Malta showing filthy tables that are reportedly sometimes left uncleaned for days.
“We don’t have space in our kitchen at the moment because of social distancing, so we were told to eat in this particular area which doesn’t have any assigned cleaners.”
“I’m pretty sure other departments are also feeling the strain we are right now,” one physiotherapist told Lovin Malta. “Not to mention all the halls being completely turned around right now. Some of our wards are now being repurposed for COVID-19, and there’s also a bunch of staff shuffling because of this.”
And it’s definitely not just the physiotherapy department; some people sitting at these tables are actually the ones who tend to COVID-19 patients.
“I can understand that the current situation is an extraodinary one, and I’m sure no one is really expecting any miracles, but we’re at least expecting the basic needs.”
“I’ve personally seen instances of spilled coffee being mopped up to six days later,” one person told Lovin Malta. “We’ve even had high-scale management coming in from their offices with alcohol wipes to clean some of the tables because they’re disgusted and fed up of trying to contact the cleaning department for weeks. And I’m sure that department is as busy as we are!”
“Staff members from other departments also share the ‘canteen’, but there aren’t any bins in the room, just small cardboard boxes that aren’t even replaced,” the person continued. “People try to be tidy, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re hectically going about your day and then this happens.”
“It might not seem like the biggest issue right now, but when you put this on top of everything else, it quickly becomes unacceptable.”
“The current temporary solution seems to be to eat outside, next to the fire exits in the hospital’s internal courtyards,” a worker explained. “It’s an OK solution… aside from the fact that you need to sit on the window ledges to eat. And I can’t imagine what chaos there will be when it starts raining.”
As fatigue continues to creep into Malta’s overstretched health workforce, the frustration has clearly started to show.
“We’re tired, we’re drowning in work, and now, we also have this to deal with,” another person finished. “We have people not being granted permission to take study leave, we have people needing to take sick leave and ending up crippling the entire team when they do so, and now we have this horrendously unhygienic situation that we need to work and rest in.”
“Had I not really needed the money right now, I would’ve definitely resigned by now.”
What do you make of this?