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Editorial: Less Talk, More Action On Nurses’ Issues

NURSES at the Marsh Harbour Clinic in Abaco had enough of waiting for their concerns to be heard this week.

About a dozen nurses called in sick, not because they were ill, but because they were sick and tired of waiting for issues to be sorted out.

They say that the building is not properly sanitised or cleaned due to negligence. They wrote in a letter about issues with the toilet not flushing, and cleaning staff only showing up to change bins and then not being seen for the rest of the shift.

“We are still running daily clinics in these conditions, which are very unsanitary,” wrote the nurses.

It may have taken the sick-out, but health officials have been stirred to respond, with community health administrator Charlene Bain saying yesterday: “We’re addressing their concerns and the care of the people of The Bahamas is very important to us.”

By saying concerns are being addressed, it is acknowledging there were concerns in the first place – so why take so long to sort them out?

Some of these matters – like making sure cleaning staff are carrying out their duties – are simple management functions, so why is the issue left to drag on until nurses withhold their service to draw attention to it?

Lest we forget, as if we could, we are in the middle of a pandemic, when issues of sanitary environments are more crucial than ever. That’s a matter of crucial importance for staff, and for patients.

Let’s hope that these concerns really are addressed – and we’ll be checking with nurses to see if they are.

After all, in another matter relating to nurses, it was back before Christmas when Health Minister Renward Wells promised the government will pay healthcare workers the honorariums it promised for offering services during the start of the pandemic.

Just last week, the president of the nurses union said that money still had not been paid. Words, alas, are easy to say but it is action that is needed.

RIU closure

The news that the RIU hotel on Paradise Island is closing its doors again is sad indeed – and a sign that the nation’s reopening to tourism will be a difficult one, with setbacks along the way.

The hotel did not comment yesterday, but it is thought that the decision is down to the simple economics of not having enough occupants to keep the doors open. At least, not right now. The hotel aims to re-open for Easter if all goes well.

With the government committed to supporting furloughed employees to the end of January, that obviously leaves a gap for some who may find themselves still not back at work for months yet. The government has extended its arrangements before to cover that gap – and it had better be budgeting for the worst case scenario in case it needs to extend that aid.

Sandals is another whose properties have had their reopening pushed back – and different resorts will be sizing up the best time to get into the market once more.

We all know it hasn’t been an easy road so far trying to get through the worst of the pandemic – and the RIU news shows that we’re not at journey’s end yet. The truth is, we won’t be for a long time.

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