At least 13 elderly people have died as a result of the coronavirus at Rauhaniemi Hospital in Tampere. More than 110 patients and staff members have been diagnosed with the Corona virus since the epidemic took hold inside the hospital last December.
The Regional State Administrative Agency of Western and Inland Finland (Avi) carried out an occupational health and safety inspection at the hospital at the end of January, and Yle viewed the report that became public this week.
The inspection revealed shortcomings and deficiencies in regard to hygiene and the disinfecting of equipment, tools and other goods. The shortcomings have been pointed out to the employer by hygienists for several years, said the report.
The report also listed a number of other problems. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, an employer must address them without delay.
However, the report does not comment on whether the issues had an impact on the unusually large scope of the epidemic.
Controversy over protective gear
In January, before the inspection took place, Yle reported that the trade union for social services and health care professionals, SuPer, had criticised Rauhaniemi Hospital for their handling of the coronavirus.
The most significant problem, according to SuPer's work environment expert Eija Kemppainen, was difficulty in getting adequate protective gear. Nurses caring for Covid patients have had to wear surgical masks, said Kemppainen.
The nurses at Rauhaniemi hospital had contacted the union.
"The nurses are afraid and they are upset. They are also accused of not acting correctly," Kemppainen said of the received messages.
The City of Tampere denied failing to supply adequate protective gear for their staff. In January, Chief Administrative Officer Lauri Seinelä said that FFP protectors are used when there is a risk of droplet infection. According to Seinelä, masks and visors appropriate for their particular circumstances have been used in Rauhaniemi.
List of patients incomplete
The regional government agency report does not take a stand regarding the protective gear caregivers should have had access to. The report said, however, that the employer must provide workers with personal protective equipment and plan the work in a way that aims to avoid exposure.
The inspection revealed a number of other deficiencies. According to the report, risk assessment was not sufficiently targeted toward each individual occupational group, instead relying on general assessments.
The risk assessments had not been updated at the end of the year when the hospital was faced with their own epidemic situation. According to the report, no risk assessment had been carried out for the ward where the Covid patients were isolated.
According to Avi, prevention of Covid exposure was not based on a comprehensive and up-to-date risk assessment. Consequently, the implemented measures did not necessarily target the most harmful and dangerous factors, said the report. The report stipulated that the City of Tampere should update their assessment of the hazards caused by biological agents.
The list of patients who fell ill and were exposed to the coronavirus was also incomplete at Rauhaniemi Hospital. An employer must keep a list of workers exposed to biological agents causing serious danger or serious illness in the workplace. If a caregiver becomes ill with coronavirus at work, it is an occupational disease.
Employees not given enough information
Shortcomings were also exposed in the flow of information. The health and safety officer at Rauhaniemi Hospital had not received enough information during the epidemic, nor had issues affecting safety and health been adequately discussed with employee representatives.
The inspection also revealed shortcomings related to impractical facilities and shared toilets in patients' corridors.
Yle has reached out to the city of Tampere for comment, but has yet to receive a response. Rauhaniemi Hospital has promised to comment on the report later Thursday or early Friday.