ELWA Hospital Workers Strike For “Risk Benefits”

By Edwin G. Wandah

Several workers of the ELWA Hospital yesterday staged a sit-in action in demand of what they termed as hazards benefits promised by the Liberian leader sometimes last year when she visited the hospital.

According to the health workers, during the Ebola crisis last year, the Liberian leader, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited them and seeing the level of work done at the time, promised to include them on Government’s Health Hazards list.

Speaking to journalists at the compounds of the ELWA Hospital yesterday, Abraham L. Tokpah, who is the Cashier/Data Entry Clerk said, since the pronouncement was made by the Liberian leader, there has been no sign of payments made to them by the Liberian government in relation to her, (President) concerning the benefits.

He said, it was unacceptable, taking into accounts the level of sacrifice these people, (nurses and doctors), including other supporting staffs have made during the fight of the Ebola outbreak to be left out of the process.

Abraham who represented more than hundreds of health workers, including other staffs of the Hospital prayed that payments be made to these people to at least commensurate their efforts. He further stated that although, they (the Hospital) have not received their health benefits, but said that other hospitals have started receiving theirs already.

Our reporter who visited the scene of the ELWA Hospital early Wednesday morning vividly observed several patients being abandoned for hours, while nurses and doctors were seen standing to claim the attention of relevant authorities to their plight. “My brother, these people were requested to open accounts at the LBDI Bank for US25.00,” Abraham stated.

When Doctor Jerry Browne was quizzed concerning the issue raised by the ELWA workers, he said that the tension has been quelled. “We have engaged them, (the health workers); they have all returned to work and we will approach relevant authorities on this,” Doctor Browne intimated.

According to Doctor Jerry Browne, sometimes last year, President Ellen Johnson visited the ELWA Hospital and seeing the level of work done by the health workers, promised to pay them Health Hazards Benefit.

Doctor Browne further said that although there was no formal agreement made between the Liberian leader and the Administrative Staff of the ELWA Hospital concerning this benefit, but hopes and prays that she at least remember her promise.

He thanked the workers of the Hospital for their patience and assured them of their Management’s fullest cooperation to engage Government and relevant authorities in meeting up with their demands.

Meanwhile, authority at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has said that Government is working on modalities to at least appease the aggrieved ELWA workers.

Speaking to this paper via mobile phone, Rev. John Sumo who is the Communication Director at the Ministry of Health said, the risk or health benefits was previously intended for private health institutions in the country.

According to Rev. Sumo, with the supports of other private health institutions like the ELWA Hospital, mechanisms are worked on to see how best they can be included into the process. He said that although, some of the private institutions have already received, but there are others yet to receive, to include perhaps ELWA and others.