DNA open letter to Minister for Health and Social Services

March 25, 2019
Hon Dr Kenneth Darroux
Minister of Health and Social Services
Government Headquarters
Roseau

Dear Hon Dr Darroux,

Good health and blessings to you.

For some years now the nursing service has been under extreme and increasing strain to deliver adequate and quality health care services to the people on Dominica. This is due to less than positive practice environments. Unfortunately Tropical Storm Erica and Hurricane Maria caused, aggravated and added to the strains and while we were hopeful that your ministry would address them in reasonable time you have proved us wrong.

Most if not all nurses would have made their work concerns known to their supervisors over and over again and we are aware that some have communicated them directly to you at a meeting at the PMH about this time last year. Some wrote to your ministry and copied their letters to our association and to the Public Service Union. Our executive also communicated most if not all of these concerns to you in written communication and in a face to face meeting on April 13, 2018. Additionally we know that the Public service Union has not only written to you but has met with you on the behalf of the troubled nursing service.

To date minimal relief has been reported and the issues are escalating, consequently nurses are choosing migration as a way out. This is very worrying, and it is compounded by the fact that our esteemed partners in healthcare – the physicians are also leaving at a rapid rate.

In light of the above we wish to ask you some pertinent questions in the hope that your responses would enlighten us on solutions we may have missed. But first we thank you for relief in the following areas :

1. 100% increase of the $20 night duty allowance

2. repeat uniform allowance disbursed in view of Hurricane Maria

3. repair of some health facilities damaged by hurricane Maria

4. appointment of several nurses after a prolonged period of temporary employment

5. the recruitment of foreign nurses to partially address staff shortage

Now for the questions:

1. Is your government considering salary upgrade for nurses as recommended by the Caribbean Center for Development Administration since 2013?

2. Why haven’t you apologized for falsely accusing the DNA of recruiting nurses for overseas employment?

3. Why is it that security is very unreliable and inadequate at the Accident and Emergency department at the PMH and other health facilities where staff are often working in fear esp during the night shift and during festive seasons?

4. Can your government introduce a Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care Workers Act?

5. Why are the staff and patients of the Acute Psychiatric Unit not relocated to a safe environment and why are they forced to inhale construction dust and face other construction risks during the renovation of the unit which begun since the week of Sept 11, 2017?

6. Has your ministry adequately addressed the security concerns of the staff of the Reginald Fitzroy Armour Hospital reported since October 2013?

7. Why hasn’t your ministry addressed workplace bullying as investigated and reported by Mr Gerard Burnette since 2011? Where is that report?

8. Can you update us on any progress made concerning policies to address psychological violence in the workplace?

9. Has your ministry repaired the leaking skylight overhead windows at Castle Bruce health center reported on May 9, 2018, and which you visited?

10.Why doesn’t all health facilities have a functional landline phone, and why do nurses have to frequently use their personal phones to communicate work matters?

11.Why are district nurses who are transfered not accommodated in proper houses?

12.Why are nurses appointed on probation after four and more years of employment?

13.Why does an already stretched nursing service have to spend time teaching nurse recruits English on the job?

14.Why is it that foreign nurses are provided with transportation to their homes after the late shift and local nurses are denied?

15.Why is it that the Newtown Health Centre is still being housed in a cramped container at the Roseau Health Centre at the Botanical Gardens?

16.Why is it that some nurses on the Dominica Nurses Association are being victimized and declined permanent appointment in positions they have acted with excellence for prolonged periods?

17.Considering the qualification criteria for nursing leadership positions in Dominica was reviewed during the period 2011 to 2015, why is it that some nurses have been appointed to some of these positions after that period, without the required qualification?

18.What can your ministry do to arrest rampant victimization and favoritism in the nursing service?

19.How is it that two nurses have to operate from their private vehicles to deliver primary health care, because their health centers are still compromised from the hurricane?

20.What is the reason for the prolonged delay in the commencement of the Marigot District Hospital?

21.Why is the Mahaut Health Center still covered with tarpaulin? Why are all health centers not repaired as a matter of primary healthcare priority?

22.If the nursing service is a critical and essential service such as the police, fire, and prison services why isn’t there a deputy head as in the case of the other services?

23.Why are some Health Center’s doors and windows still boarded up?

24.Why are nurses allowed to work in mold infected health facilities to the point that three nurses are on sick leave at the same time for mold related reasons?

25. Why is the Coulibistrie Health Center still being operated from a church
presbytery?

26.Why are all district nurses who have been transferred from their home communities not being given proper and paid accommodation?

27.Does your ministry have a nurse retention strategy?

28.Finally is your ministry aware of the campaign for Positive Practice Environments (PPE) for Health Professionals? If not, here’s an invitation to join us.

The campaign which has been initiated by the International Council of Nurses(ICN) and the World Medical Association(WMA) among others, and endorsed by the World Health Organization(WHO), promotes that “All health sector stakeholders, be they employer or employee, private or public, governmental or non-governmental, have their respective and specific roles and responsibilities to foster a positive practice environment” (WHO, ICN, WMA et al, 2012). We hope you can draw practical interventions from the key characteristics of the PPE available here :
http://www.whpa.org/Key_Characteristics_of_PPE_for_Health_Care_Professionals.pdf and save our
dwindling nursing service and our collapsing health sector.

We look forward to your respectful, open and favorable responses as well as your honest commitment to do better for the nursing service and the entire healthcare sector.

A better health sector means a healthier Dominica because quality workplaces most definitely translate to quality care.

Sincerely,
………
Rosie Felix
President

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13 Comments

  1. MY OPINION
    March 27, 2019

    Firstly, @ Zandoli, if you don’t know the entire story it is best to keep your mouth SHUT. Secondly, my take on these issues is as follows:

    1. There are nurses who rightfully deserve an increase in pay etc but there are numerous nurses who do not even deserving of their current salary. The way that some nurses treat SICK people – it’s appalling!

    2. Are nurses the only employees of the public sector who need immediate attention? What about our fire officers who are deployed to out-districts and live in buildings which almost turn into pools when it’s raining heavily?

    3. I think that the timing of all of this is poor and the demands are too numerous. Stop playing politics The country is still trying to get back on its feet after hurricane Maria. My house is not even fully repaired as yet – we are still rebuilding our country. That list should have been divided into four sections and should be presented as such. Rosie I believe you would have gotten better results the

  2. concerned
    March 26, 2019

    Instead for monies to be used in the health sector , the government is busy spending millions of dollars dredging rivers. like seriously. I strongly believe dominicans dont care for their country. This dredging of rivers are destroying our lands. Our hospital is one of the very first things to be upgraded. Health is first. We are losing so many loved ones because of lack of proper machines and equipment in d hospital. Lord help us

  3. HI FIVE
    March 26, 2019

    Well it seems the nurses in DA are those with the most patience in the world. How about the union that represent them. The country should have been closed down for ar least a day.

  4. March 26, 2019

    More questions than answers. Politics and more politics…

  5. ?????????????
    March 25, 2019

    Rosie There was a hurricane lest your forgot and many, many, homes were destroyed. May this answer some of your questions. You sounding like apparently you do not have a heart. I know that nurses are essential & I am sure that whilst you have all those question, you seem to miss the point that Dominica suffered a devastating hurricane in 2017 , which affected all sectors yes all sectors. There are so many persons – elderly and otherwise who needs assistance with their homes etc. Persons who were retired and did not see the need for insuring their properties. It would seem that you have not travelled around the country. If you did, you would have seen the magnitude & extent of the damage. There are other priorities not that your concerns are not necessary. But stop, remove your political shades, act like a normal person, be objective. Wear shades not leaning on any political party or colors. Try to be non partisan.

    I don’t care about the thumbs down. Non political I am.

  6. Ibo France
    March 25, 2019

    The multiplicity of easily solvable complaints and inadequacies reflects poorly on the government. Most of them, some as long as six years, have been deliberately ignored. Health is wealth. No administration that allows its healthcare system to deteriorate to such an abysmal level deserves a next term in government. In fact, they should be protested out of government. This government has shown a depraved disregard for human life. For this, they have to go.

  7. johnson
    March 25, 2019

    All those questions, what has this ministers really about? Skerrit had a point

  8. Lin clown
    March 25, 2019

    Our Nurses are very very good .They can do a lot of the work the DR. do in the USA eg suturing.We should treat them good.They should not make Rosie Felix use them to make political milage.We all know she is a member of the UWP.GOD BLESS our NURSES.

  9. Hope
    March 25, 2019

    This is shameful! The nurses are to valuable to any country for us to continue along this path! This is just shameful! We can do better by our nurses. We have to do better by our nurses. Shame on those who it is within their power to do something about this and have failed to.

  10. Look Maji!
    March 25, 2019

    Purely politically motivated. Weh weh weh……

    • %
      March 25, 2019

      Darroux was discarded by Skerrit, he may not even answer or respond to you all!!!
      That’s the type of fetid mess Dominica has descended into under Skerrit our laziest PM .It should have been cc to lazy Skerrit too.
      Skerrit Must Go
      Skerrit Must Go
      Lazy Skerrit Must Go Now

      • Zandoli
        March 25, 2019

        If all these issues are still unattended to, perhaps Skerrit had every right to get rid of him.

    • Bee
      March 25, 2019

      So the nurses working out of their vehicles because health center cannot get repaired 1 year plus after Maria should keep their mouth shut because you think its politics? those at the casualty without security at night, being threatened should shut up because you think it is politics?

      Ebeh after drinking that red cool aid there you really maji!

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