By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH officials say they are working to rectify all issues with nurses at the Marsh Harbour Clinic in Abaco after they engaged in a “sick-out” earlier this week because of “poor” working conditions and safety concerns.
The Tribune previously reported that about a dozen trained nurses on Abaco called in sick on Wednesday because of unresolved security and sanitary issues at the clinic.
One nurse, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said workers also called in sick yesterday, adding that some intended to do so again today until the problems were resolved.
When contacted by The Tribune yesterday, community health administrator at the Department of Public Health, Charlene Bain said the concerns are being addressed.
“We’re addressing their concerns and the care of the people of The Bahamas is very important to us and we will address all the concerns of the health team,” she said.
Nurses there are concerned about the lack of safety protocols and unsanitary conditions, citing issues with running water at the facility.
The group also claims the building is not being properly sanitised and cleaned due to negligence.
“We have observed their (cleaning) staff going missing for an entire shift or only present at the beginning of the shift to change the garbage bins,” the nurses wrote in a letter this week. “There are also issues with the toilet not flushing and the water running. We are still running daily clinics in these conditions, which are very unsanitary.”
Sources said the nurses’ absence has greatly affected the operations of the Marsh Harbour Clinic, saying some patients are even being told to check back the next day for their medications.
Yesterday, Ms Bain admitted that while the facility does not have its usual staff capacity, those with urgent needs are being cared for.
“Persons with urgent matters are being seen by the physicians and the healthcare team and operations have been continuing. We’re not at the level that we would wish for it to be, but we’re addressing the (nurses) concerns,” she said.
Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams told The Tribune yesterday that the officials should have addressed the concerns of workers when they were first brought to their attention, noting that they have a duty to ensure safety and cleanliness in the workplace.
“These issues were outstanding for a very long time and we would like them to be immediately dealt with. The minister and various departments had the various information from the union and from members for a very long time and it’s now boiling and I think that they are very slothful in handling the affairs of the people,” she said.
“People can’t wait for six months to be in these types of unsanitary environments. It causes people’s morale to drop down and so forth. You’re in a government place where you can’t flush the toilets. It’s a disgrace and then you want these (high) standards of the workers when you’re not keeping up your part of the bargain.
“You should make sure their health and safety come first.”