Ovwiomodiowho Prince, an anesthesia nurse, has accused the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital of victimisation following his decision to stay away from work for three days during a strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress and the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives.
Ovwiomodiowho said all the theatres were locked up by union members in the hospital, noting that anesthesia nurses work with doctors in the theatre unlike general nurses, who work in the ward.
He, however, said OOUTH had a policy of mandating all nurses on probation to work during strike actions.
After showing up on September 17, the first day of the strike and finding the theatres locked, he said he reported to three of his superiors, who concluded that he should work in the children’s ward.
Ovwiomodiowho said he did as he was told but his shift was hampered by union members, who came in to chase away all nurses on probation in the children’s ward.
“I was in my usual state of employment until 15th of September 2020 when organised labour in Ogun State embarked on a seven-day industrial action, which was to start on the midnight of 15th September until Tuesday 22nd September 2020,” he said.
He disclosed that the directive from the labour congress was followed by a circular from Ogun State NANNM to embark on the same strike.
Ovwiomodiowho said the NNANM chairman in the teaching hospital, however, asked all nurses on probation to stay on duty, in line with the medical facility’s tradition.
“The situation was so confusing but I had to resume my unit on the 17th of September,” he said. “I was told my unit was locked. I was directed to take instruction from the Chief Nurse Officer’s office, where CNO Adesegun in the presence of Deputy Director of Nursing Services, Kikelomo Enaholo, said that I should work in the children ward for two hours.”
When he assumed the reassigned role, however, members of the NLC Monitoring Task Force rushed in to chase all nurses on probation home with stern instructions not to return until the civil action was over.
After managing to complete his shift for the day, Ovwiomodiowho said he went home and did not return to work until the strike was over as directed by the NLC.
He said as an anesthesia nurse, his name was not fitted into the roster for nurses on probation drawn up for the strike period.
Ovwiomodiowho told SaharaReporters that he is the only nurse on probation in the anesthesia unit of the hospital, meaning all his colleagues were complying with the strike action at the time.
Unimpressed by his refusal to return to work on September 18, he said he was told to proceed on reorientation for a month.
In a letter sent to CNO Adeleke, the head of the anesthesia unit from CNO Adesegun, it was requested that Ovwiomodiowho’s roster in his primary unit be suspended.
“This is to inform you that it was discovered he is not well conversant with his professional responsibilities, hospital setting, ward location as a general nurse,” the letter read in part.
“Hence the need for him to undergo a period of orientation to the wards.
“The said nurse has been called, all the professional negligence discovered discussed with him and he was counselled. He is also aware of the need for this orientation programme as we deal with life and his nursing care services can be required anytime anywhere in order for him to be able to cope with any challenges ahead. Please, disseminate this information to the officer concerned.”
By training, Ovwiomodiowho said he is not a general nurse, adding that he had also undergone the orientation between January and February when he assumed duties with the establishment.
Ovwiomodiowho told SaharaReporters that he had never had dealings with the CNO in question until the strike incident.
Instead of proceeding with the reorientation, he wrote her “a letter for clarification for the reorientation and for her to substantiate her claims, but she firmly told me she was not going to reply to me and implied that I should accept the allegations and must serve the punishment first. I simply continued to report to my primary area of assignment till date”.
Subsequently, Ovwiomodiowho said he wrote to the NANNM unit and his own unit as well, asking them to intervene but his pleas were ignored.
He said the hospital management soon suspended his roster in the anesthetist unit and failed to pay him for the month of September.
Ovwiomodiowho said he had to write to the hospital through a lawyer.
“They removed N15,000 from my salary and said I did not work from the 18th,” he said.
He said that he wrote letters to the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Peters Adefuye, and the Ogun State branch of the Joint Health Sector Union, adding that both letters did not accomplish any favourable outcome.
SaharaReporters reached out to Dr Adefuye but received no comment.
Meanwhile, Ovwiomodiowho said the eight months of cordial working relationship he had built with his colleagues had been lost.
“They have sidelined me,” he said. “My input is not valid anymore. Since they suspended my roster, everything I do is now covered by someone else, I just report to work and find something to do,” he added.