03 July 2007

Nurses must be housed close to the hospital

The Star

NURSES form about 60% of the population in any hospital establishment. Whenever any planning is made for hospitals, whether it is for the private sector or the public, provisions are usually made to house some of these nurses.

They have to be on call for certain sections like the operation theatres and other critical areas, and priority is usually given to those who work in these areas.

Way back in 1967 when Penang was under curfew because of the “hartal,” many of us could not go to work. To move around you would need curfew passes or police escorts.

Bicycles and motorcycles were the common mode of transportation then. Buses were not running as well.

So to man the emergency department, operation theatres, and surgical wards, the nurses who were staying in the hostel were roped in. Those who could not go home once the curfew was imposed, had to stay in the hostel.

Well, we survived for three days without a change of undergarments and on a diet of salt fish to tell the tale. People must not forget history.

Why this fact is being brought up again is to remind the authorities and planners of having a nurses' hostel near an established regional hospital.

I pray it will never happen again. But how are you going to rope in your nurses during emergencies? Before the current nurses’ hostel is pulled down, a new one must be built.

Telling them to rent houses and rooms with their current cola and housing allowances is not the answer.

It is an easy matter actually, but have we looked into the establishment’s needs? I hope the planners have done so.



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