As public health officials tackle community spread of COVID-19, the Barbados Nurses Association (BNA) has expressed concern about inadequate safety equipment for healthcare workers in the Accident and Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
BNA President, Joannah Waterman expressed the concerns in her message for the launch of Nurses Week 2020, in the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, which has largely been overshadowed by the ongoing pandemic.
Waterman has also outlined numerous problems affecting nurses prior to COVID-19 that in her opinion, must not exist after the crisis has passed. These include inadequate staffing quotas, sporadic salary payments, insufficient remuneration, inadequate training programmes and material resources.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health and Wellness Jeffrey Bostic in his message lauded nurses for their “invaluable role”, which has been “magnified times-fold” amid the global pandemic.
While expressing satisfaction with the stockpiles of PPEs and efforts to shield the country’s main healthcare institutions from COVID-19 as announced by Minister Bostic, Waterman vowed the association would continue to closely monitor developments.
She, however, added that appropriate training, mandatory testing, and quarantine for nurses exposed to infected patients are imperative. The BNA president also wants to see more widespread testing of frontline nurses and compensation for any harm resulting from the existing hazardous environment.
“The current community spread of the virus will mean expanding these protocols to all health institutions such as Geriatric and Psychiatric [hospitals],” the statement read.
“[The BNA] shall continue to monitor what is actually happening on the ground with our members and nurses. Currently, training is incomplete for Geriatrics, Psychiatric settings and there are real concerns regarding the availability of the appropriate PPEs in the areas such as the Accident and Emergency Department,” she added.
Minister Bostic meanwhile expressed his commitment to providing PPE and other essential items to nurses.
“While this type of sacrifice may be hard for some people outside of your profession to understand, I know that those of you who have chosen this vocation fully embrace the notion that being a nurse is more than a job. It is who you are. Your aptitude to be empathetic, to feel compassion and to provide comfort is what drew you to this profession, and it is these qualities that make you the diligent, committed, healthcare professionals that you are,” the Minister’s statement declared.
It is imperative that nurses are provided with all the personal protective equipment they need to carry out their duties each day, and here in Barbados we have worked hard to ensure that our healthcare teams have ready access to everything they require,” he stressed.
The BNA meanwhile emphasised the contribution of local and regional nursing icons including Mary Seacole, Florence Nightingale, Dame Nita Barrow, and Eunice Gibson, who all paved the way for nurses currently on the frontlines of the pandemic.
“It is indeed an indispensable contribution that nurses make to our nation Barbados and as unsung Nightingales, they must be justly rewarded. Nurses are deserving of the best of working conditions to ensure safety and health for themselves and their parents,” the BNA President stressed.”
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