Gov’t urged to save what is being described as a collapsing nursing service

Dominican nurses at a conference. File photo

The Dominica Nurses Association is blaming the government for “nurses leaving Dominica in droves”.

“We are very disturbed by what appears to be the inability of the Ministry of Health and by extension, government after government after government, to make the healthcare environment more positive, attractive and caring enough to retain adequate numbers of home-educated nurses,” Association president Rosie Felix said in a release.

The nurses’ statement on the matter follows recent comments by Health Minister Kenneth Darroux alluding to the problem.

Last month the Ministry of Health expressed concern over the number of nurses who have left Dominica since the passage of Hurricane Maria last September.

According to figures from the ministry, some 14 nurses including retirees departed the island since the hurricane.

In their release, the nurses indicate that the issue is for them a vexing recurring decimal.

Quoting the International Council of Nurses, the local association says nurses are the backbone of the health system and everything should be done to give them a quality work environment because quality workplace equals quality patient care.

“The biggest and most prolonged challenges facing our nurses include but are not limited to lack of professional pay for professional work, workplace bullying, lack of respectful and compassionate leadership, victimization, unsafe nurse:patient ratios, work overload and related burnout, plus lack of resources and support (International Council of Nurses, 2007)” the release states.

According to President Felix “Hurricane Maria is not the reason that nurses are leaving Dominica. This natural disaster is only the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

In terms of the numbers, she points out that “in 2016 an estimated 12 nurses resigned from the nursing service, an estimated 12 resigned in 2017; a further 12, have already disappeared so far this year”.

The reason for the nursing migration is apparently not only financial.

The Dominica Nurses Association release points out:

“Workplace bullying has been documented and reported at the Acute Pyschiatric Unit and DNA for two generations of nurses. In 2010 DNA requested a formal investigation into that matter. That investigation was carried out by Mr Gerard Burnette but the findings were never acted upon. In the last 5 – 10 years many nurses have verbally reported being bullied or witnessed bullying in other departments of the health sector. Written and oral complaints to the relevant heads have proven futile – instead the victims have been transferred, victimized or punished. This problem is leaving nurses battered, bruised, demotivated and deflated”.

According to the association, many nurses can take it no longer: “they are escaping like refugees as they seek to protect their sanity and peace in neighboring territories where the environment is safer and healthier and the pay far better”.

Lack of proper remuneration of nurses is described as a critical factor.

“Nurses have never been paid as true professionals in Dominica; we are the lowest paid in the region. We have been used and abused in that regard,”the association says.

In explaining that situation the DNA says that In 2013, consultants, of a job evaluation exercise, requested by government and conducted by the Caribbean Center for Development Administration, found it a justifiable cause and recommended a significant salary scale upgrade for nurses.

“The government has unequivocally ignored this recommendation hence the status quo remains – no professional pay for professional work. Consequently nurses leave for higher salaries which is complimented with benefits such as health insurance, duty free vehicles, and housing. The $5000 EC start off pay for new nurses in neighboring jurisdictions exceeds the start off salary of even the top nurse in Dominica”.

The nurses have been trying to get their long list of concerns addressed.

“We are disappointed that we have not received an appointment to meet the Minister of Health to discuss the problem and the solution, after three weeks of requesting one,” the health workers state in their release.

The nurses say they are aware that more of their colleagues plan to make their exit in the weeks and months ahead, and their Association is calling on the government “to intervene favorably and urgently to save a collapsing nursing service”.

Their recommendations include:

(1) That government implements, as a matter of priority, the salary upgrade for nurses as per the 2013 recommendation of the Caribbean Center for Development Administration;

(2) That the ‘magnet hospital’ concept (International Council of Nurses, 2007) be adopted with an unresfusable practice and benefits package to attract and retain qualified and experienced nurses.

(3) That the MOH investigates workplace bullying across the nursing service, develops and establishes anti-bullying policies; and disciplines and or provides counsel for the perpetrators;

(4) That the report of the workplace bullying investigation conducted at the Acute Psychiatric Unit be retrieved with a view to adopting, adapting and implementing proposed solutions and prevention measures across the health sector;

(5) That nursing managers from the community health centers, to the hospital wards and offices, to the government headquarters, incorporate compassion, respect, empathy, fairness, humility and honesty in their leadership and management styles beginning yesterday.

Health Minister Darroux admitted recently that the local nurses are under pressure.

“We know that we’ve had quite a bit of nurses leaving, some nurses are working extraordinary hours to make the place function,” the minister said.

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  1. Real truth
    April 13, 2018

    Before the next election, all associations /unions are going to put serious fires/ pressure under governments table,…….
    Time is up , all DA salaries need to be reevaluated/adjusted like yesterday……

  2. Jonathan Y St Jean
    April 12, 2018

    I have a different take on the trained nurses leaving our shores in largwe numbers.This tells me that besides passports, agricultural products we have something which we can export and we should.The question is how are we managing it.Take a good look at India a developing country which selected the area of technology and computers, and it trained it’s people in that field so it exports it’s trained and skilled personnel to countries which are looking for that resource.India is not a big player in manufacturing of computer hardware or software but it is successful in the strategic area of educated and skilled computer technicians.Following this successful model Dominica should seek to produce nurses for other countries with aging populations.We can become a center for acquiring trained nurses in many fields by building the infrastructure to train nurses from all over the Caribbean and the world.This will ensure a lot of nurses and we can incentivize them that many will remain

  3. Peace
    April 12, 2018

    1. I agree and support these recommendations but not sure about the magnet concept at PMH. No disrespect but we have ways to go. Perhaps it might be something to work towards.

    2. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that the top nurses making less than $5000 a month. Not right.

  4. Da passports
    April 12, 2018

    lets be real here guys skerrit did not destroy the country by himself, laborites, the labor party, and kairi fm killed all dominica industries is not just one man! give everybody they credit, laborites, labor party, kairi, dbs killed dominica in a collective effort. funny thing is enough laborats run from de country long before it start to fall apart, i hope they get their karma no evil deed should go unpunished :evil:

  5. mine
    April 12, 2018

    They leave DA and some of them cannot pass the nursing bar in the US and ended up doing home heaith aid.

    • Me Alone
      April 15, 2018

      yes still .. their pay as a Home Health Nurse is way over the pay of the top nurse in Dominica,, they have incentives an job benefits and opportunities that we do not presently have here….

  6. jack
    April 12, 2018

    You should not blame the Government for nurses leaving Dominica. nurses migrates to countries all the world for better living, or incentives given to them, I am sure that Dominica has a Nursing Association and there is they should find a common ground to work collaboratively with government to offer better salary and incentives for these nurses, but don’t just blame Government for everything. For example if Government have to pay top salaries to nurses who is going to feel the pain “the Patients”.

    • Me Alone
      April 15, 2018

      i am not sure if you are responding to the post or a comment on the post. i am trying to understand what you are saying.. Can you please read the post again before you comment?

  7. Original
    April 12, 2018

    This is a situation which is on going for generations and yet these people vote the current ruling party to govern our country! There is only one way to make politicians understand and that’s through your democratic right, vote these people out of office, they’ve demonstrated that they’re not willing to deal with the issues at hand or is it that they’re not capable either way on going 20 years in office and yet our society is plagued with such basic problems… Are you people waiting for a total collapse of our societal institutions? What more must happen in this country for Dominicans to realize that we need administrative and cultural change? Smh… Sad situation

  8. The one and only.
    April 11, 2018

    You spend money on more police officers and you complain about the nurses?
    If I’m a nurse and we’ll educated and full trained at high level..
    Would I stay here and get paid little money or go somewhere else for more money?
    This is where I have to blast the gov!
    You can get away with crime here! The police are crap! We need to REPLACE the current CRAP and LAZY officers with RUTHLESS officers that are not afraid! NOT ADD MORE
    The same money you used to add police, put thst towards nursing or health care.
    If you a highly trained nurse will stay instead of going abroad for the sake being patriotic, think again!

  9. April 11, 2018

    instead of 100 police officers, why not 100 nurses

  10. Carrotop
    April 11, 2018

    The nurses are not educated enough in Dominica to work in hospitals in US, unless they upgrade, that takes money, but nursing homes will, but not to nurse patents.

      April 12, 2018

      I don’t think is that they not educated. The training is more intense in the States
      than it is in Dominica,

    • Toto
      April 12, 2018

      So you saying our training and education is inferior? No wonder the ministers themselves go overseaswhen they fall ill.

    • Top Nurse
      April 13, 2018

      Carrotop you have no idea what you are talking about. Dominican Nurses excel in the USA. Thus the reason we are on HIGH DEMAND. So kindly stay in you lane. Don’t to drink you water, and eat at least five (5) servings of fruits vegetables per day.

  11. Ibo France
    April 11, 2018

    Not only is the healthcare sector collapsing, the entire country is crumpling. Nothing politicians like more than when the people become apathetic. They do whatever they want to with impunity. The government’s policies have led to abject poverty, widespread destitution, and have made mendicancy become a recognized way of life. Living without a reliable supply of electricity, water and a weekly or monthly wage is becoming insufferable. The nurses, the teachers, the port workers, the public servants, the entire country deserve much better. This oppressive domination must stop!

  12. Laughter the best medicine
    April 11, 2018

    Skerrit should have employed Issac as a male nurse instead and religous minister should do a few nurding classes in stead of being a minister.
    The CMO & theminister darroux should do 2 days service a week like they would have them do in Cuba if in crisis. cabelleros metan manos

  13. My little take
    April 11, 2018

    So the government is not able to save what is referred to as a “collapsing” nursing service, but Roosevelt Skerrit is busy bribing Joseph Isaac from the opposition, so he could go unopposed eh. Boy I have always said and will continue to day that the world is doing more harm to Dominica than good. Dispite the evils they know about Skerrit, yet they giving him money to destroy my country . But God is good all the time

    • Da passports
      April 12, 2018

      The world never know what going on? Them people at the banks dont know NOTHING! Giving all kind of corrupt country leaders money, all they know about is big countries like the US, and Russia apparently

  14. Tom Brown
    April 11, 2018

    MizzB you are so right the treatment you get at Health centers and hospital is sicking and alaming. To much attitude from some of the nurses like they are doing you a favour. If you all go into nurse for the money and not love of the provision, back off its not for you.

    • mine
      April 12, 2018

      They can’t do this in the USA because the patients will made a story on you in a minute and they will take the patients side because they come first. THEY will get away with it in DA but not in the US.

  15. WAPAP
    April 11, 2018

    We often speak of love for country, being patriotic etc.. A a Dominican I do not believe there is no other place I’d want to work other than my country, However when the system does not motivate you to do so, what is one left to do but search for better elsewhere. This article refers to the nurses but it generally applies to the entire Dominican work force, where we work underpaid, NEP internships which stretch for over 5 years, teachers working for 10 years before getting appointed with required associates degree. that is just madness.

    All who get the opportunity to leave should do so, for their own personal development.
    Put country first and then you should go to the red clinic to beg for ration to feed your family WTF.

  16. Me
    April 11, 2018

    Well said DNO and Rosie Felix! Stress is a disease and the Government bave all nurses suffering from this disease. How do they expect us to function when the pay is not good, the working environment iz not good and the supervisors are not good? We leave our homes happy and by the time we get to our workplaces we are depressed because we are expected to trat people without medication, wipe our hands withot paper towels, and be creative after using the toilet. Can we then smile to a public who then demands so much of us? I totally endorse this article and wish that less of us were afraid to speak. Thank you Rosie Felix.

    • Ibo France
      April 11, 2018

      Feeling your pain sister. No one should expect you to perform miracles on the job with so many problems. Even basic stuff, such as bathroom tissue, is absent. These nurses need thorough counseling after working under these most deplorable and appalling conditions then take home a paltry salary. This is tantamount to persecution, just unconscionable.

  17. Hope
    April 11, 2018

    I sympathize with the nurses; I too know what it is like to work in the public service where so much is demanded of you and so little is given in return. I thank God Almighty for our nurses who work so hard under unfavourable conditions in such trying times. God will reward you! Sometimes a different environment provides a much needed change…. that too is an option one can always embrace. It is just always so sad that its the best of the nurses who leave…..hmmm. I always wonder how beautiful life would be if those in leadership had true wisdom and an ounce of that rare sense we call “common”

  18. April 11, 2018

    Nothing new, every group,sector, organisation, industry and institution are either dead or dying, Skerrit killed them all

  19. Bystander
    April 11, 2018

    In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria when the public was accessing internet peacefully at the PMH to contact their family, relatives overseas and do school work in the evening you nurses did not come to the public’s defense when police came and ask us to leave the hospital. You watched the internet passworded from the public and only given to nurses as if this was the best benefit for you all while at work. I saw people who were doing consultancies, principals, teachers, police officers, busdrivers, college students, parents of students studying overseas denied such a necessity. There was not one adverse event due to ppl occupying the vicinity. Thanks to LIME and Scotia Bank they were the ones who provided and continue to meet such a necessity. PMH will call for blood eh wait. And we the public waiting……..

    • Bystander too
      April 20, 2018

      So technically u are saying that because of the internet being ‘passworded’, it’s acceptable as to the issues the nurses are currently facing?
      Don’t you think there may have been a reasonable explanation as to police officers intervene in internet usage in the evening?
      I can clearly remember there being two Wi-Fi connections available to nurses and the public even after the hurricane.
      My friend, lets all seek facts before we point fingers, or jump to conclusions, nurses are under a great deal of stress some act differently while others may learn how to adjust. We arnt angels fallen from heaven, nurses try their best to give the best. You say the public waiting, remember we all fall sick and its nurses we expect to care for us.

  20. Not A HERD Follower
    April 11, 2018

    The Minister knows the nurses are working under pressure. What is he doing about it? The number of Ministers keep increasing out of proportion with the size of the population and economy. Electoral candidates of the ruling party who lost in the last general elections were all given jobs in the public service without any substantive duties to perform. In the meantime, the nurses continue to work under pressure, and the Minister nods his head.

  21. MizzB
    April 11, 2018

    Allu want higher salary yet still can’t treat the public in a good manner. Not because you are in the public service, is a favor allu doing us when we come to the health centers or hospital. The nurses need to fix their attitudes towards the health system. Is either you do it with a passion or don’t do it at all!!

    • Nurse
      April 11, 2018

      And i guess y they are not doing it at all. They are leaving. The system just aint worth it, trust me.

    • Johnnie Boy
      April 12, 2018

      MizzB did you read the article above carefully ? how do you expect the Nurses to give the kind of service you’;re talking about when they are facing all of these stressful situations ,they are human too . If it was a member of your family in this nursing practice i am certain you would not speak that way . After all man . Nurses have too be on the road all hours of night trying to get home after completing their duties . No health insurance and they are exposed to diseases everyday . Small salaries lowest in the world . Give me a dam break man

  22. Tom Brown
    April 11, 2018

    God is not a police. Who want to go let them go, run run.
    Its all about money, they want to compete with one another and there salary cannot afford it. They in worst conditions, complaining about too much work, rent an cost of leaving high. they cannot thief stuff like they do in Dominica complaining cameras on them. Too late shall be their cry. Employ foreign nurses.

    • Bystander too
      April 20, 2018

      Oh give me a break Tom Brown! Try living in a nurses shoe for three hours on the ward! Just three…. They are humans too…. You think foreign nurses will do so much better under same conditions smh

  23. Dora
    April 11, 2018

    To all those commenting who are not nurses let us the nurses speak as it is our right to do so, who in the kitchen feeling the heat& who feels it knows it. We don’t want any minister of Nursing since we are functioning within the ministry of Health. If we the nurses want to go to Africa to break our backs in a nursing home let us do so peacefully that is not your choice neither. Nurses work under unnecessary pressure& abuse. Treat nurses well or else we will keep resigning& find more lucrative options to work with. At the end of the month after paying your bills, rent& buying bare minimum food we can hardly scrape a few dollars to save. We work extra hard, extra hours& who looks out for us to get home safely? We ask for assistance to purchase a vehicle to get home& we are given excuses. NURSES ARE HUMANS TOO, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs apply to us as well.

  24. jihan
    April 11, 2018

    I applaud the nurses that have left,all nurses should be paid the highest salaries,Skerrit is taking Dominica in the wrong direction and Dominica is failing.

    • mine
      April 12, 2018

      the hatred you have toward the PM is a sad.

  25. dee
    April 11, 2018

    I know what allu want you know
    Ministership floating all over de place so allu want a Minister for Nursing too
    Allu Dum in cans not easy nah

    • dee
      April 11, 2018

      I think The Kid misinterpreted what i was trying to say
      By a ”Minister for Nursing” i was being sarcastic as it seems increasing the Cabinet with Ministers for this and that, all problems will go away .
      I am in total sympathy with the Nurses having had personal experience at the PMH ,
      I often asked some of them , ”how do they do it” they have to be dedicated and will only emigrate when they get to their breaking point . They alone know what their breaking point is , as the authorities have the faintest of ideas what their real struggles are .Many are scared of voicing dissatisfaction in fear of retaliation from seniors and party cabal .
      Politics plays a huge part in what is going on , but whenever one of these Ministers need medical care, ”Away they fly ” at the country’s expense ( the same nurses Tax contributions ) I have heard nurses utter the words ” I dont want to get sick myself and get admitted at PMH.
      What does that say then ?

    • block 44
      April 11, 2018

      that $300.00 social security you labourats never work for,have you all tell hard working people,who clean …. in you know where and smell all kind of smelling bobo. i work at mph 30 years ago and the condition is still the all you telling them go if they want to its all about money. but its a you borhin that will suffer the big boys will be air lifted to miami.

    April 11, 2018

    Some of them(NURSES) leaving and running away only to find them working in a Nursing Home in America cleaning white people …. for next to nothing. Then they complaining all their back hurting and they so tired. Only wishing they had remain where they were. Too late, because they can’t even buy a ticket to return to Dominica.

    • jihan
      April 11, 2018

      Oh please they get the highest wages that is out on the market,these nurses deserve better,you one i guess that live day by day begging a minister to pay your bills,i respect all the nurses,you all are blinded by Skerrit like no one else can rule more than Skerrit.but skerrit is well set when he is done with all of you.his properties in the usa and elsewhere are all secured.

    • Toto
      April 11, 2018

      You are a sick man. You think caring for white people is worse than looking after black peopl? I hope you are not complaining about prejudice then.

      • Man bites dogs
        April 12, 2018

        @ Toto, the Kid is not prejudice, What he is saying the way black nurses would look after white people with dignity, most black nurses would not look their own black people the same you Blue bellys like turning and twisting things too much.

    • April 11, 2018

      Kid stop being so prejudice . The same white people all over the world that’s helping Dominica ?? Also nurses in America makes 3 times the money the nurses in Dominica gets. Nursing is not an easy job, So one will always complain about being tried and sometimes back pain. I do hope you’ll apply for a position at the PMH now that there’s a shortage of nurses ??

      • Me Alone
        April 15, 2018

        No he can’t just apply.. he must sit his butt in classroom for 4 years and then apply after.. hoping that some of his follower will join him during the training so he may not fine him alone to be running the 15 department of the PMH…

    • Shaka Zulu
      April 11, 2018

      The level of ignorance you display is amazing. Day in day out you here defending the government. Is it not from white people he go begging to feed your lazy assets. When last you see help come from Africa. White people in nursing home work hard save money and have enough assets take care of themselves. They are human beings. They are the tourist who spend millions in Dominica and elsewhere because tbey can. I am proud to be a black man but your stupid comment is tbe reason why People continue see us as monkeys. If i had no choice but to remain a slave i would rather be enslaved by a white man tban one who looks like me. In layman terms: we liberated from european slavery only allowed ourselves to be enslaved by our own leaders. Finacially, mentally and all.

        April 13, 2018

        Bro you got the right to defend who you want so to I think I have the right to defend who I want. Isn’t that so?!
        Ain’t you defending Lennox and the UWP?

      April 11, 2018

      DNO, Do you realize when you alter my comment to suit you what the result is like? You made my comment sound like I have a problem with race. I read much more offensive words which you accept because it suits your purpose. ( words like criminal, dictator, murderer, just to name are few, are words by some of your favorites to describe Skerrit, yet you moderate and do no adjustment to the comments but you found … “….”… was so bad you had to delete it to change to context of my comment.

    • My bad
      April 11, 2018

      @kid I wish they would give you a nice little injection that would send you to sleep because you are tired.

    • Ibo France
      April 12, 2018

      KID, your comments are so insensitive. Your reasoning is warped by dirty, slanderous and partisan politics. Every time someone speaks about the ineptness of this government, the deplorable state of the country, the atrocious working conditions of many public servants, you lash out with your misguided and utterly preposterous statements, thinking it’s your divine duty to defend a most unscrupulous administration. Cost of living is constantly rising, wages and salaries remain stagnant for years, the purchasing power of public servants is rapidly diminishing, yet, they must remind mum. Folly is not bliss.

        April 13, 2018

        For my comment to be sensitive seems I must do and say like you and the others that constantly criticize and destroy everything that Skerrit or the government does. The problem with you all(UWPites), You all do no wrong and are the most righteous set of people in Dominica. Only you ALL see, say and DO the positive. Everyone else is negative in your eyes.

    • Peace
      April 12, 2018

      Spoken like a true kid!

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