Turkish women in healthcare tackling virus and violence – BirGün

Women, who make up the bulk of Turkey’s healthcare workers, have faced increased violence during the coronavirus pandemic as relatives of COVID-19 patients are exhibiting increasingly extreme behaviour, BirGün newspaper reported on Saturday.

Patients have been encouraged to demand more services, and the number of patients visiting emergency rooms has increased, which provokes violence against healthcare workers, gynaecology assistant Burcu Özdoğan told BirGün.

Women make up 68.6 percent of medical staff in Turkey, according to Turkish Statistical Institute data and healthcare is the sector with the highest increase in women in the workforce, the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey reported.

Women have to deal with an increased workload, and spend more time for childcare, as schools remain closed in Turkey, said Emergency Medicine Specialist Benan Koyuncu from the Ankara Chamber of Medicine. “It is a historic issue that women don’t get spousal support in this matter,” she added.

Meanwhile, patients placed in isolation due the novel virus and their relatives have become more aggressive, Özdoğan said, especially towards women.

Men in healthcare have been able to get away from their families and stay in isolation in other accommodation, while women continued to care for the children, Koyuncu said, increasing their fear of infection by risking their children as well.

“Daily disinfection of their homes put a second burden on women, who were forced to stay alone due to isolation measures,” she continued.

Despite the majority of healthcare workers being female, the personal protective equipment they use was designed with male dimensions in mind, Koyuncu said.

“We can say that, in the light of all this, the pandemic has exposed inequality in the family and the system once more,” Koyuncu said.

Meanwhile, less experienced nurses in intensive care units have had to take on care duties for COVID-19 patients as the number of ICU beds in Turkey’s hospitals increase without a corresponding increase in personnel, BirGün said, citing a report by Turkish ICU Nurses Association.

According to the association, a qualified ICU nurse should be caring for a maximum of four patients at most at any given time, with the ideal not exceeding two. But newly graduated nurses have to take on patients, it said, directly correlating to increased complications during treatment.