A disgruntled Grenadian nurse has made a plea for those in charge of the health of the nation to address their burning issues including inadequate payment for work being done.
A senior nurse who spoke with THE NEW TODAY raised concern with the plight of those nurses working at the Theatre at the St. George’s General hospital who are being subjected to unfair treatment at the hands of Management.
She said the norm is for Theatre nurses to be always on call even those who would have already worked a regular shift but is required to stay on call in case of the need for urgent and emergency surgery.
“If that nurse is staying within the parish of St. George’s, she is allowed to go home and then the Hospital transport will pick her up when there is an emergency case or surgery to be done,” she told this newspaper.
“If she is not staying within the parish of St. George’s, she is not allowed to go home, she has to stay on the compound. There is a room provided downstairs for such,” she said.
According to the nurse who spoke on condition that she was not identified, the problem that arises is that this Theatre nurse would have already worked a full shift from 1.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. and would have to remain at the hospital on call from 7.00 p.m. to 7.00 a.m. continuously.
She said: “If she (the Nurse) gets one case she gets $50. 00 subject to tax … so she gets something like $37.00 after they take out the tax. If she gets no case she gets no money.
The senior hospital employee charged that the system is very unfair to this particular nurse who is forced to go home without any money for a whole night’s job due to the fact that there are no cases for her to deal with even though she is on call for several hours.
“These nurses would have left home at 11.00 in the morning, come to work for 1.00 p.m. work until 7 p.m., have to stay from 7.00 p.m. till 7.00 a.m. and they have kids, parents, husbands” she remarked.
The senior hospital staffer pointed out that nurses should be seen as “trained and certified professionals” and that government cannot expect many of them to be “happy and productive” at this time when they are not being treated fairly on the job especially with respect to numeration for what is done by them at the facility.
The nurse cited the case in which there was a 4% rise in pay for public officers and her own pay cheque was increased by a mere $65.00 which could not even buy her a good pair of earrings to wear with her uniform to look good on the job.
She said that nurses feel “unrecognised” in the Grenadian society and that the last protest demonstration staged by hospital employees including nurses were for better working conditions including pension and job security and against contract work.
She stated that the nurses are unhappy on the job and the situation has reached the point where “I really don’t know why nobody doesn’t listen to us”.
The nurse also made some remarks about the lack of protection afforded to them by the Management at the hospital in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus.
According to the nurse, many staffers were exposed to danger due to the lack of sanitisation of the hospital bus that was used to pick them up, bring them to work and then take them back home.
She scoffed at the directive now being given for all public buses that are allowed back on the road to do regular sanitisation as Grenada eases restrictions on COVID-19.
“I took the (hospital) bus to go to work and to come back home – the bus will park in front the General Hospital to drop us off and to wait for us and not once Hospital Management sanitise those buses for us nurses and they are making so much fuss now for those private buses providing the service to the public (to be sanitised) to go on the road,” she said.
“Our bus would have come down to the hospital three times a day, bring down, pick up, and go back up… and not once were those buses sanitised…”, she added.
The nurse also referred to the regulation for bus drivers and conductors to ensure that the hands of passengers are sprayed on entering the vehicle but nothing like this was put in place for Hospital staff who are considered as frontline Essential Services workers in the fight against the virus as they entered the staff bus.
She said the nurses took on their own to sanitise themselves with their own sanitisers to protect themselves against COVID-19.
“As nurses we have our own sanitisers and we know we (are) going on the bus next (after work) so we don’t want to bring nothing on the bus. We don’t want to bring nothing home so we wash up (our) hands and we leave the building,” she added.
The senior nurse expressed fears that the virus could have easily spread if one worker at the hospital had contracted it due to a lack of proper sanitisation.
According to the nurse, the public are now increasingly exposed to nurses travelling on those buses that provide public transport due to the fact that Grenada no longer has a hostel for nurses to sleep in after work.
The hostel, she said used to provide an opportunity in the past for any disease outbreak among nurses to be contained as they would be confined to a particular environment.
“Everybody is now going to a different household and each household (has) three, five (persons and) other members working in other Essential areas – security, supermarkets.
The nurse also took a swipe at the Hospital Management for the lack of COVID-19 testing that was done among the General Hospital Staff members since the policy was to concentrate on testing only the volunteer doctors and nurses who were working directly with the COVID clients.
Stating that the general nursing staff never got tested, she said that when the hospital “unknowingly” admitted a positive Covid-19 patient on the Male Medical ward, this situation should have woke up the Hospital Management about the need to test all the nursing staff.
The nurse said that this should have dawned on the Hospital authorities that “maybe we could have a COVID case here coming in for some respiratory illness, coming in for some diabetic issues”.
“Covid is not blood – you cannot see it,” she remarked.
The nurse also slammed the Hospital Management for the lack of concern shown to staffers by bringing an end to the transport provided to them by private bus owners at a time when no firm agreement was reached between government and the busmen on resumption of the service.
She said that some nurses were forced to see how they could get to work on their own at the hospital to provide a service to the nation.
“Some nurses stood by the road for an hour-and-a-half waiting for a bus to go to work and can’t get a bus.
“Some nurses got ride for part of the journey and then the ambulance had to be dispatched to pick them up and bring them to do their shift at the hospital.
According to the nurse, the message that came out to them is that the authorities did not “care” how they reached to work and got back home after their shift is completed.
She also referred to a situation in the early days of the fight against COVID in which the police were strict and forced some buses to take off some nurses caught in an overloaded bus as the vehicle was mandated to carry only five passengers.