Nurses getting burnt out, says union chief

Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff

Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff


Tribune Staff Reporter


BAHAMAS Nurses Union president Amancha Williams said some nurses are burnt out and discouraged from volunteering their services due to the way health officials are organising the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mrs Williams said nurses are willing to work, but are tired of the way they have been treated during the course of the outbreak.

Her statement came days after several doctors, nurses and technicians at Princess Margaret Hospital walked off the job due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

And last week, health officials confirmed 23 people at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre (SRC) had tested positive for COVID-19. Mrs Williams first broke the news about the SRC cases to a local media outlet hours before health officials made the announcement. According to the Public Hospitals Authority, the patients at SRC’s male ward caught the disease after a staff member who worked across three wards at the institution tested positive for the virus.

While Mrs Williams could not say if more people at SRC or in one of the hospitals have tested positive for the virus in recent days, she said those who took the test since the new cases were announced are expected to get their results sometime this week.

When asked if there was heightened anxiety among patients and staff due to the new cases, she added: “I think that the only anxiety comes when the staff is not aware of the policy that is implemented by the institution and the institution does not state their policy.”

Mrs Williams said there was a lack of information regarding the protocol of employee health and what would happen if a worker got exposed to the virus.

“The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organisation is a guideline, but what policy your institution wants the nurses, doctors or any ally healthcare work to follow is really important in disseminating the information to your staff on what is the guideline and the policy that you’re going to implement in your institution,” she said.

“Persons need to know the steps and they need to be familiarised so they wouldn’t have any doubt in their mind. Information removes doubt and adds concrete and sound information.”

Mrs Williams insisted this was needed so people did not have to “guess” if and when the institution they were working at was going to test them and the reason behind the test in the first place.

“Another challenge that just recently came up that I received a call from the prime minister about, is the fact that he is saying he does not have any volunteers to work in a particular area,” she continued.

“They have a group of nurses that are presently working in the area right now, but these nurses are being overworked and they’re burnt out.”

Mrs Williams said Dr Minnis asked the union and the “relevant person” to attend a meeting to discuss ways they could move forward to ensure nurses are able to work in the particular area.

Still, she said the “relevant person” said they did not have the authority to attend the meeting so it never took place.

“So what we’re having now is that nurses out of the clear blue are told to report to the emergency room and they will get their mandate on where they’re going to be working then. So they’re pulling the nurse that’s working in the regular ward out and putting them over to a particular area without any notice. Most of them just had a day’s notice.”

Mrs Williams said one of the reasons nurses aren’t willing to volunteer is because in March, a nurse from SRC rendered her services as a volunteer to PMH during the first surge of COVID-19 but was never paid overtime.

“It was said in the meeting with the prime minister it was a glitch in the Acustaff system that caused the nurse not to get paid. So a group of them were discouraged so now they are not volunteering their service to come to PMH,” she explained.

“Another grouping worked a shift the Nurses Union disagreed with, that should never be implemented in an institution. The world system also states that this shift is a slavery shift that will cause the nurse to be burnt out, sickened and easily prone to making mistakes and become overwhelmed, which can cause them to make poor decisions in managing critical patients. They chose that system and they burnt out the nurses so now they are just trying to recover.

“The nurses want to work but they’re tired of how they are being treated,” she said. “Can you imagine spending two weeks in a ward with no air condition? The majority of the air condition is not working, not even in SRC.

“...We say to our minister, you come in to bring peace, solve issues and bring about unity. You did not come to spark a war or fight because the healthcare system does not need wars. What we need is a man with vision and a heart that is governed by God.”

During a Ministry of Health press conference on Friday, newly appointed Health Minister Renward Wells said health officials have met with the nurses and doctors union as well as the Consultant Physician Staff Association.

He said they have all agreed to “meet regularly and clarify channels of communication” to ensure all of the appropriate personal protective equipment is available for all medical workers to carry out their duties safely.

“As a government, we are doing what is necessary to improve your environments to ensure that you are safe,” he said. “The supplies are there. It is imperative, therefore, these supplies get to the frontline in sufficient numbers so that every member of the health team is safe. We understand your reservations and fears. That is why we have responded by locating a place for you to quarantine, self-isolate, or simply to rest away from your families to ensure your families’ safety. The government, by our actions, is committed to ensure the safety of all of our workers on the frontline. We implore you to always use universal precautions to engender safe environments for yourselves and your patients,” he said.


tribanon 3 years, 8 months ago

They're mainly all talk and no 'do', with Minnis leading the charge of his 'do nothing' buffoons. And when Minnis does 'do' something, he makes the most abysmal mistakes such as his very foolish and stupid decision to prematurely reopen our borders on July 1. He should have long ago resigned in disgrace.


Cobalt 3 years, 8 months ago

Spoken like a typical back seat driver. Blah blah blah, complain complain complain.... that’s all we Bahamian people do. No matter who takes office, all we do is criticize. One faction of people are criticizing the PM for not opening the boarders while the other faction is demanding it’s closure. No one is ever good enough to satisfy our arm-chair demands. Do you realize that if you were the PM we would be saying the exact same thing about you? The COVID19 virus has taken the entire world by storm. There is no blueprint on how to deal with it. There is no protocol or scientific algorithm that we can apply to stop its spread. As scientist, we are learning as we go, simultaneously collecting critical data that may be helpful to our study. The only reason that Dr. Minnis reopened the boarders was to attempt to stimulate the economy. If we place this decision in its proper perspective, it at least makes logical sense. Every decision made by every global leader bears a heightened level of risk, thus its placed under a microscope. Some decisions are good, while others (in hind sight) are not so good. But like I said, “we are all learning as we go”. The only thing that Dr. Minnis can do is follow the suggestions made by global Health Care professionals. So please stop with the ignorance and stupidity. Use inductive and deductive logic to assess the situation. Use socratic questioning and critical thinking please. Use reasoning and stop blurting out every piece of rubbish that comes to mind.


geostorm 3 years, 8 months ago

@cobalt, thank you for making sense! All we ever do is criticize, man it's sickening!


tribanon 3 years, 8 months ago

@Cobalt: It's Minnis's decisions that make no logical sense and it's Minnis who should (but can't) stop with the ignorance and stupidity. Just listen to yourself for a moment. Your every criticism of the so called complainers are the very same criticisms they quite rightfully have about Minnis himself. Phew! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. You're almost as bad as Minnis and his lame efforts to blame Bahamians for his very dismal performance and most foolish decisions. Keep in mind too that he was elected to lead which means think for himself and act sensibly based on known facts and sound advice received from others.


hrysippus 3 years, 8 months ago

This union official is reported as saying; " and discouraged from volunteering their services ". Really? The nurses volunteer? I thought that they were all hired and paid to do a job of work, it is surprising to hear that they are all volunteers. Anyway good luck to all the nurses who actually do work, most of them are wonderful people doing a job which very important at this time particularly.


tribanon 3 years, 8 months ago

Most of our senior civil servants are handsomely paid political 'volunteers' and they 'volunteer' their services to the public when they feel like doing so or when they are 'greased' to do so as a matter of some urgency.


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