A pool of back-up nurses to aid the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) with the national public health emergency from the COVID-19 pandemic has received the thumbs up from the head of the nurses Association.
On Sunday, QEH’s Executive Chairman Juliette Bynoe’s called on retired Registered Nurses and Nursing Assistants to join the team of back-up nurses.
President of the Barbados Nursing Association (BNA) Joannah Waterman told Barbados TODAY that the pool is needed at a time when nurses at the hospital and other health care facilities fear for their lives and are overcome with emotions as they stand on the frontline of the pandemic.
The BNA president said in light of the fact that Barbados has reached a “dire emergency” in its COVID-19 battle, she fully understands the need for the QEH to pull in nurses from outside sources to ensure continuity of care.
Waterman said: “In this environment, so much is happening so quickly and the essential fundamental thing is that they need to manage the patients. How are they going to do that, they have to pull in a pool from outside.
“The only thing I would say in caution about that is that our retired nurses are in the vulnerable population so that could present a problem in terms of their willingness to come forward knowing that they are more vulnerable.”
Waterman said how nurses currently view the experience of battling a pandemic that has never been seen before in Barbados is understandable because they are human.
Despite having knowledge of the science, with unprecedented and fluid situations such as COVID, it is normal for nurses who do not know what to expect, to be fearful, she said.
She added: “The long hours you have to work now and the fact that you are not looking forward to a holiday or a real relief then that adds to the situation.
“So they were fearful from the beginning of the pandemic, but now it would be heightened.”
The BNA head praised the QEH for doing an excellent job in providing counselling for nurses.
She said BNA met with the hospital’s management a few weeks ago where Bynoe-Sutherland presented the hospital’s strategic plans for a second wave of the pandemic, which includes the increasing spread of COVID-19.
“Now we know officially it is community spread, but I knew that ever since,” said Waterman. “And it was just a matter of time before they admit that it was community spread because it was too widespread.
“However, they have laid out the strategic plan for this second phase and in it there are all sorts of areas, including you can have voluntary testing of nurses or health care workers that are suspicious or worried that they might have come in contact [with an infected person].
“There are also counselling and psychological services that are available. So it was a very comprehensive plan that they rolled out to use. But how it would be taken up on the ground by our nurses and health care workers, I am not sure. Our nurses are aware that this is available to them.”