‘We Didn’T Threaten Doctors’

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.


Tribune Staff Reporter


HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands said yesterday he was “flabbergasted” to learn of doctors allegedly being threatened with non-contract renewal if they choose not to volunteer in the COVID-19 fight.

He said such threats are “not something that is consistent with the Ministry of Health”.

This comes after Bahamas Doctors Union President Dr Melisande Bassett warned in an April 11 letter sent to BDU members that doctors have been “threatened with non-contract renewal” if they choose not to volunteer to be a part of the COVID-19 response.

Noting the matter is currently under investigation, the health minister told reporters yesterday: “I can tell you that they were certainly not threatened by me and they certainly were not threatened by anybody who I have given a directive to threaten them.

“I find that principal abhorrent and it is certainly not something that is consistent with the Ministry of Health, so I’m flabbergasted by that claim and we’re investigating it.”

Other concerns highlighted by Dr Bassett are that some doctors have not received proper training in putting on and removing personal protective equipment (PPE) nor proper N-95 mask fitting.

“In addition to these concerns, some physicians have elderly parents and family members with comorbidities,” the letter continued. “These physicians have expressed that, if possible, they will assist if they are able to sequester themselves away from home for the period where they are assisting directly with positive patients.

“Since the beginning of March, the BDU has requested additional sleeping facilities to facilitate social distancing and to provide lodging for persons who wish to sequester themselves away from home. To date, the BDU has not received any official information from the minister on this. We know that this is an impediment to many wishing to volunteer.”

Dr Bassett also called for “official documentation” to back up the government’s verbal promise for “compensation and insurance benefits” for doctors or their family members, if they end up contracting the disease.

Asked by reporters yesterday on when meetings will be held to resolve these issues, the health minister replied he had met with physicians on Sunday.

He said: “On Sunday, I met with some 280 or so physicians by Zoom. The day before, I met with the physicians’ leadership. I am open, I am available and we continue to seek resolutions to any of these outstanding matters.

“This is not the time for division. This is the time for us to come together and solve problems, which is not to say that we have to hold hands and sing kumbaya, but we have a nation of people that’s counting on us and we have to be there for them.”

Earlier this month, Dr Sands revealed that five healthcare workers had tested positive for COVID-19, adding that more than 50 workers had been taken out of the healthcare system due to exposure to the deadly virus. One health care worker who tested positive for the virus, Dr Judson Eneas, died more than a week ago.

“The Ministry of Health expresses its sincere condolences to the families that have suffered this great loss,” a statement from the Ministry of Health said.

Noting there is still a need for more healthcare workers to help in the fight against the COVID-19 threat, MoH advised all physicians to notify officials “on when they will make their services available to support the country’s fight against COVID-19.”

“To facilitate this request, the general public is to be assured that all healthcare workers will be provided with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to handle patients who are confirmed or suspected to be infected by COVID-19,” the statement added.

“To ensure that adequate numbers of PPEs are maintained, the government has already ordered additional supplies. Further, supply levels are constantly being maintained and rates of usage of PPEs are being carefully monitored.”

It continued: “…Despite economic fall out of the mandatory lockdown, the government has already committed to providing physicians with a $5,000 honorarium for those who work on the frontline of the health sector’s response.

“The government has also offered the provision of a life insurance benefit of $100,000 should a healthcare worker (contract) the COVID-19 virus and experience an untimely death.”

All national COVID-19 concerns by medical workers, MoH added, will be addressed by the National Coordination Committee (NCC).


Hoda 6 months, 1 week ago

I dont know if i believe these jr docs but who knows...


tell_it_like_it_is 6 months, 1 week ago

With all the bullying this government been doing to the entire nation, I believe it!
This government seems to have the mentality of everyone must fall in line to whatever we say. At the end of the day, voices of opposition serve an important role to keep everyone accountable and also to keep new ideas / innovations flowing.


Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 1 week ago

You just can't believe a word coming out of the mouth of either Sands or Minnis. They have both time and time again deceived the people on so many matters.


TalRussell 6 months, 1 week ago

Some noting that with but in hundreds coronoavirus tests done on a population of 400,000 that the government's official number count 8 deaded is suspect considering some thousands PopoulacesOrdinary have deaded across colony of 700 out islands and cays just since January 1, 2020.
New York state just yesterday decided to suddenly overnight add another 3,700 previously unaccounted for as coronoavirus deaded to its official deaded count!
How many tests have been performed on those Incarcerated up at Fox Hill, All Care Workers, members Royal Constabulary and Residents living in government and private Long Care Residence Facilities. More importantly, how many tests in total have been done on virus suspect individuals from outside of the government's two main Hospitals. Nod once for yeah, twice for no?


Bobsyeruncle 6 months, 1 week ago

Other concerns highlighted by Dr Bassett are that some doctors have not received proper training in putting on and removing personal protective equipment (PPE) nor proper N-95 mask fitting.

Oh boy, I'm not a doctor but I sure as hell no how to put on an N95 mask correctly. It's not rocket science (or should that be neuroscience?). I'm pretty sure I could also teach myself in 5 minutes, the correct way to put on PPE. These doctors are smart people, surely it's not beyond their own capabilities.?


Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 1 week ago

A lot of those Caribbean trained 'doctors' we have probably couldn't get a license to practice medicine in a developed country even though most developed countries are right now desperate to get more 'real' doctors and are even relaxing their visa/immigrant requirements to be as accommodative as possible.


ConchFretter 6 months, 1 week ago

The issue with the N95 mask fitting is to make sure that the mask forms a tight seal and that no air can get in from the sides of the mask, only through the filter part of the mask itself. Otherwise, your risk of getting infected goes up due to lack of a seal.

The generic N95 mask may not fit on folks with beards, folks with large chins, small noses, etc. However, if you are not tested/fitted to KNOW the N95 forms a tight seal on your face and will protect you from the virus, these doctors are going into battle HOPING that the mask works.

As for putting on and taking off PPE, a Google search for proper technique should suffice.


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