More than 17 nurses at the Rand Memorial Hospital on Grand Bahama called in sick in an apparent sickout, the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) said yesterday.
“Hospital officials confirm that the first calls came in ahead of the 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. shifts respectively,” it said in a statement.
“They add that there has been no communication from the Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) regarding the apparent industrial action.”
The PHA said the apparent sickout came at a time when the Rand is already facing a nursing shortage.
“This major setback affected the Rand Memorial Hospital’s wards and inpatient services as these areas were most negatively affected as a result of the sickout,” Hospital Administration Sharon Williams said.
“Measures were taken to redeploy nursing staff that reported to work in strategic areas to maintain our ability to provide healthcare to our patients.”
When called for comment yesterday, BNU President Amancha Williams said she was unaware of any sickout of nurses on Grand Bahama.
“But if the nurse called in sick, she must be sick,” Williams said.
“I know Freeport has several challenges in the system and I know that the nurse is overwhelmed, overworked and underpaid.
“I know that there have been a lot of challenges where they’ve had a number of COVID cases in the Accident and Emergency. I know that there are a number of issues happening on various wards.”
Williams said about 160 nurses are stationed in Grand Bahama at the Rand and various clinics.
She said as the pandemic has dragged on, many nurses throughout the country are tired, both mentally and physically, and feel under appreciated.
“They’ve been going through it from Dorian to now,” she said.
“Here again, the government and people feel as though all they deserve is just to work and keep their mouths closed. They don’t have a say. That’s not fair to the worker.
“At the end of the day, it’s overwhelming and the nurse has to take on the brunt of it because she is there 24 seven with the patient.
“The minister promised the honorarium from two years ago. These are the things that boost the morale of the worker, to give them an incentive to come to work. Other countries, other nations have done it. Why are we so slack about it? You are discouraging the worker.”
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said that it will make honorarium payments to frontline healthcare workers and non-frontline workers who worked during the first wave of The Bahamas’ COVID-19 pandemic before the second week of August.
Health officials in the country have said that Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), the Rand and Doctors Hospital are at or nearing capacity.
As of July 27, 30 people were in hospital with COVID on Grand Bahama. One patient was in the intensive care unit.
On Tuesday, Doctors Hospital CEO Dr. Charles Diggiss said that the hospital is in crisis as it nears capacity to house and ventilate COVID patients.
Doctors Hospital has the capacity to house no more than 30 COVID patients for “the whole health system to be safe”, according to Diggiss.
As of July 27, the Ministry of Health said 21 COVID patients were at Doctors, with eight of those cases in the intensive care unit.
PMH Administrator Mary Lightbourne-Walker and Medical Chief of Staff Dr. Caroline Burnett-Garraway have said that the hospital is in “emergency mode” and at a “breaking point”.
Lightbourne-Walker said healthcare workers in the country are tired and burnt out.
“The same persons have been working this entire wave, from it came to this country,” she said.
“I’m talking about the healthcare workers of this country, be they at Princess Margaret Hospital, the Rand on Grand Bahama, Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, or anywhere in the public health system, particularly the South Beach Health Centre and our partner Doctors Hospital West.
“We are all facing the same challenge.
“We are tired.
“We are exhausted.
“The healthcare professionals, I think some of them are actually roasted or toasted or whatever you will call it.”