SARS scares off support staff in Beijing hospitals

  • AseanPlus News
  • Tuesday, 06 May 2003

BEIJING: Hospitals battling SARS here are reporting a severe shortage in support staff, including cleaning crews, as many of them have quit for fear of contracting the disease, state media reported yesterday. 

People who delivered meals, refilled hot water flasks in patients' rooms, and cleaned hospital facilities have resigned, leaving nurses and doctors struggling to cope with the extra workload, the Beijing Star Daily said. 

Beijing's Xiong Ke Hospital has upped salaries for logistics staff from 350 yuan (RM159) a month to up to 4,000 yuan (RM1,831), but few people have applied for the job openings, the hospital's director said. 

A salary of 4,000 yuan is more than what many people here earn, even white-collar workers. 

Xiong Ke Hospital, which is one of several treating SARS patients, is short of about 100 such employees. 

Nurses, meanwhile, have to lug tall and heavy oxygen tanks into patients' rooms by themselves. 

Hospital officials blame the problem on insufficient awareness-building and prevention-training for support staff about SARS, leading to strong fears from them about the disease. 

They are planning to increase training for the employees. 

Medical facilities are also hoping to tap the pool of eager average citizens who would be willing to volunteer at hospitals, having been moved by daily television and newspaper coverage of doctors and nurses' fight to contain SARS and save patients. – AFP  

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