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Doctors in Nicaragua demand “protection”

As of June 3, the independent Citizen Observatory registered 458 COVID-19  infections among health personnel, including 48 deaths.

HealthCoronavirusDoctors in Nicaragua demand “protection”

As of June 3, the independent Citizen Observatory registered 458 COVID-19  infections among health personnel, including 48 deaths.

Dr. Ignacio Molina was not given an explanation for his dismissal. The head of the Human Resources area of the Manolo Morales Hospital, in Managua, admitted that she also “did not understand why,” but was told it was on “an order from above.”

In the letter of dismissal, the cause of her departure, after thirteen years of service as an oncologist at this hospital, is not detailed.

Three other doctors were dismissed from Manolo Morales Hospital on June 9. In total, a dozen doctors, including several specialists, were removed from hospitals during the day, as verified one by one to Confidencial.com.

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“There was any complaint against me or absences,” says Dr. Molina. It is for this reason that the doctor presumes that his dismissal is due to “the letter that we independent doctors signed in which we were requesting support measures and the protective equipment” against the COVID-19 virus.

In addition, “I took charge of bringing masks and protective equipment to the hospital for colleagues who are attending the pandemic,” he adds.

Dr. Molina has been at the Manolo Morales Hospital since 2003 and every Tuesday saw between 60 and 70 patients in the Oncology area. “My practice was one of the largest in the Hospital … I had a fairly large demand for patients, these patients will now have to be attended by other colleagues who are there … in the end, the most affected is always the population,” he regrets.

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The patients in this area of ​​the hospital will not be the only ones affected by the sweep of the Ortega regime in retaliation of Health personnel, who have denounced the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic that the Government insists on minimizing.

“Comrades are dying, how can it not affect you?”

Dr. Martha Bendaña was one of the first fired on Tuesday at the Manolo Morales Hospital and maintains that her departure is unjustified.

The letter delivered to her in the morning does not detail any arguments. “The truth is that the order comes from above,” she denounces.

“The only reason,” says Dr. Bendaña, “is that I signed the statement where several doctors say that we disagree on the management of the COVID-19 epidemic in Nicaragua.”

Dr. Bendaña was one of the two base doctors in the Internal Medicine area of the Manolo Morales Hospital. After her dismissal, the Hospital only has one base doctor and some resident doctors, “those who have not become ill,” she says, since she assures that in that Hospital “most of the doctors are on subsidy because they have become ill” of COVID-19, due to the lack of preventive measures and equipment like the one that more than 700 doctors have demanded in two separate statements.

Seeing her colleagues sick with COVID-19, Dr. Bendaña did not hesitate to sign the statement of the independent doctors and although she is convinced that this was the reason for her dismissal, she affirms that she does not regret having done so.

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“If you are seeing that mortality is high and that co-workers are dying, how can it not affect you?” She asks rhetorically.

Currently “the hospital is in chaos, there are a lot of sick people and they are not recovering from the people (Health workers) who are sick. Anyone with a conscience has to sign that document,” she highlights.

More than a dozen doctors fired in a single day

“For days, the bewilderment, pain, and mourning that has already been causing many Nicaraguan families has been daily news. Deaths that could have been avoided,” said 716 doctors in a statement dated the end of May, in which they regretted the “unprecedented and implausible strategy of the Nicaraguan Government in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic” and demanded health resources.

The Government, they regretted, “remains impassive trying to normalize reality, putting economic aspects before the health of the Nicaraguan population, making us a potential focus of dissemination of the infection for the rest of Central America.”

The concern of the doctors is also supported in the dozens of infections among Health personnel. As of June 3, the independent Observatorio Cuidadano registered 458 COVID-19  infections among health personnel, including 48 deaths. The cost of this concern left more than a dozen doctors fired this June 9.

Among the dismissed doctors there are four from the Manolo Morales Hospital: oncologist surgeon, Ignacio Molina; internists Martha Yadira Bendaña and Tania Munguía, and hepatobiliary surgeon, Sergio López.

At the Antonio Lenin Fonseca Hospital, doctor and anesthesiologist María Nela Escoto was fired. The general surgeon, Adolfo Díaz Ruiz, resigned in solidarity with his dismissed colleagues, and hours later the director ordered the dismissal of his wife, radiologist Linda Barba Rodríguez.

Other dismissed doctors were: Dr. Enrique Ocampo, oncologist at the Manuel de Jesús Rivera Children’s Hospital, known as “La Mascota”; Dr. Fernando Rojas, anesthesiologist at the Bertha Calderón Hospital; Dr. Yamilet Sánchez, gynecologist at La Trinidad Hospital, in Estelí; and Dr. Leonor Eugenia Morín, otolaryngologist at the Francisco Morazán health center in Managua.

These firings are in addition to that of infectologist Carlos Quant Durán, on June 4 at the Roberto Calderón School Hospital, in retaliation for being one of the most belligerent voices against the lack of official response to prevent and confront the pandemic.

Also in late April, Dr. Luz Indiana Talavera, an oncologist with more than 28 years of experience at the Bertha Calderón Hospital, was fired.

This article was originally published in Confidencial (in Spanish). 

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