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Nurses out sick at Rand, union head says

Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) President Amancha Williams said yesterday that at least 20 nurses at Rand Memorial Hospital on Grand Bahama called in sick yesterday.

“The prime minister better do something before the whole country shuts down and you have no nurses [anywhere]. I can’t stop them,” Williams told The Nassau Guardian.

“He needs to do something: give them what you promised them; sort them out, provide them with the equipment that they need to work with when they[’re] dealing with these types of patients (COVID-19 patients).

“He has to do what he has to do. We’re tired of going into these meetings. We went into a meeting yesterday with them and they’re just talking. He doesn’t want to listen to [anything]. He just wants to talk what he wants to talk.” 

Williams said the nurses on Grand Bahama are “overwhelmed”.

She said they already had a task in dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian — a deadly Category 5 storm that ravaged the island 11 months ago.

“So, they’ve already been emotionally scarred,” Williams said.

“And so, now coming here again and dealing with COVID and you’ve still put me in these compromising situations and you leave me there.

“I got to be begging for masks, gloves, gowns. When I come to work, I should have that in my hand…”

She said the nurses have “had enough”.

Williams also said,  “The emergency room in Freeport is at the maximum. [There are] patients all over the place, in the foyer, all over and it already had a shortage of staff.”

More than 300 people have tested positive for COVID-19 on Grand Bahama since July 8.

The island was placed on a two week lockdown, which was slated to end on Friday.

Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said yesterday the lockdown will end on August 19.

 The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) did not respond to requests for comment on the matter involving nurses, who reportedly called in sick.

On Tuesday, nurses working in the Accident and Emergency Department (A&E) at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) in Nassau also called in sick.

That same day, senior and junior doctors also refused to work in the A&E.

The healthcare workers sounded the alarm over what they described as a critical lack of adequate safety protocols to prevent themselves and patients from being exposed to COVID-19, as individuals suspected of being infected were being kept in A&E.

While it did not speak to reports of nurses phoning in sick, the PHA did speak yesterday to the issue of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.

In a statement it said reports claiming that there is a lack of PPEs for healthcare workers across The Bahamas are “false and malicious”.

“As a matter of infectious disease protocols, the PHA via its Supplies Management Agency secured and continues to restock elevated quantities of PPEs to equip persons across the entire healthcare system inclusive of hospitals and clinics in New Providence and the Family Islands,” it said.

“At no time was this resource under threat and as a matter of standard operating procedures, the supply levels of PPEs is closely monitored.

“The authority finds it regrettable that some would seek to generate false reporting which can only be designed to engender panic amongst members of the public.”

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