The Dominica Nurses Association (DNA) is expressing concern over what it said is the increasing incidences of the abuse of nurses on the job at hospitals and health centers on the island.
President of the DNA, Rosie Felix, said in a statement that nurses are constantly working in fear and there is a lack of political will to provide 24/7 security them.
To prove her point she pointed to an incident which she said took place at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) last weekend.
“Last Saturday 23, June about 6:30 am, a male patient on the Imray Ward verbally abused a nurse and then threatened to kill her with the telephone line he had ripped off,” she stated. “The same patient went on to the Casualty Department banging on the doors and threatening to kill the nurses. There was no police presence and the security officers could not restrain the attacker who escaped but was subsequently apprehended by police from the Roseau Police Station.”
Felix said that in 2007, the DNA both wrote and demonstrated about security and police officers were assigned to the PMH but the arrangement was unreliable.
“This arrangement has been intermittent, seasonal and very unreliable,” she stated. “Hence nurses and other health workers particular those at the Casualty Department are constantly working in fear.”
She posed several questions to the Minister of National Security, Rayburn Blackmoore, concerning the security of nurses on the job.
“Aren’t nurses valuable enough to deserve constant and effective security on the job?” she asked. “Isn’t it obvious that if nurses are not safe, patients are not safe either? Are we waiting for a health worker to be murdered on the job and then declare the person a hero? Are you willing to raise the bar or are you just watching as more frustrated and demoralized nurses leave because health care does not care? Or must we protest one more time because work is not safe?”
This is the second time issues surrounding nurses have surfaced in the public.
Recent statistics show that a number of nurses left Dominica following the passage of Hurricane Maria last September, sparking concerns that this might have an effect on health delivery on the island. Health Minister, Dr. Kenneth Darroux, said on a radio program that the nursing service was “fast nearing critical levels.”