Healthcare workers from Turkey's big cities concerned about insufficient measures risking their lives

"Although the medical mask protects only for a few hours, you only have one mask during the day, that is if you can get hold of one. I bought a couple of fabric masks, I wash them and reuse them during the day,” a healthcare worker says.
Thursday, 02 April 2020 20:38

Although the Turkish Health Minister, Fahrettin Koca, President Erdogan and other officials continue claiming that hat the health materials needed in the fight against coronavirus are adequate, in many hospitals, healthcare workers suffer from insufficient materials.

The health workers have projected the real picture in the hospitals to soL news, saying they wash and reuse the masks available because there was not enough. They also say they have to attend many patients with the same preventive overalls and some hospital administrations even say " you don't need to wear N95 masks".

While the hospital authorities say "It is very important to be well fed in the fight against the epidemic", according to the healthcare workers, they only serve bread and cheese and yoghurt drink to the workers.


The difficulty of access to face masks for healthcare workers in Ankara City Hospital has been continuing since the first day of the pandemic. Outside the towers 1 and 3, where COVID-19 diagnosed and suspicious patients are hospitalized, masks are not available in other polyclinics.

In some buildings, there is healthcare personnel, held responsible for the masks, who distribute them by signature. The first thing the health workers do, when they come to the hospital in the morning is to find the person who distributes masks. "Although these medical masks protect you only for a few hours, you are given only one mask during the day, if there are any left in the hands of the distributor," a physician told soL.

"I bought a couple of fabric masks, I wash and change them during the day," a nurse says.


To our question "Were the hospitals ready for the epidemic?", a health worker working at a hospital in Istanbul replied by saying there were weaknesses and big shortcomings.

“I can say that there are big problems in the preparation of hospitals. Within a week, we turned the entire hospital into a corona hospital and emptied the services. But we did this as the new corona patients came, so we did not have a plan before,” said a health worker, asserting that the picture could get even heavier.

“50 to 70% of the Istanbul hospitals' intensive care units were full last week, so as the new cases were coming in, we made it up as we went along because we did not have a prior plan,” he added.

Asserting that the last week passed in panic, the health worker said, “the picture is not very bright when compared to OECD countries, in terms of number of personnel, we are in the last row. Predicting that the intensive care units in Istanbul will be full next week, we cannot, unfortunately, say that there is serious preparation as to that.”


A health worker working in İzmir 9 Eylül Medical Faculty Hospital also made explanations about how unprepared the hospitals were for the epidemic.

“When the epidemic started, we as healthcare professionals had no information about it. Precautions against this epidemic were not taken in our hospital. When the first suspicious cases started coming in, a rush of excitement started in the hospital management,” he said.

The health worker said that the hospital management did not give any information to those working in the field. Stating that a meeting was held on the subject afterward, the health worker said the following about their experiences: “Instead of ways of protection from this virus, we were told to be content with what we had in hand. And then suddenly they started to evacuate the hospital. In this process, we started to take in the high-risk groups of COVID-19 suspect patients in hospital services.

We tried to provide adequate insulation as much as we could, but we are not sure how successful it was. After a while, we were told we needn't wear N95 masks, but an ordinary surgical mask would be as good because the N95 mask quota for our service has been closed. We had to use the N95 masks we had in hand for a long time. They also reduced the service's surgical mask quota by 2/3. We had to work with only two surgical masks the 16-hour watch. They opened this pandemic service, but nobody had any clear information about the service order and management. We waited for full-protection equipment for our service, but they said no again. "


"They tell us to use the given N95 masks for 5 days. We disinfect the supplied glasses and use them over and over again. We are wearing gowns, but unfortunately in the hospital, the gowns are small and we cannot find one gown for each patient.

Although they insist on a regular diet, pay attention to the sleep pattern, the dinner that comes to us at the hospital is only bread and cheese and yoghurt drink. They are expecting the healthcare workers who are on duty for 16 hours to 32 hours to survive on this food and take care of the patients. 

Our hand disinfectant demands are constantly rejected, unfortunately, we don't even have enough hand disinfectants. "