The Dominica Nurses Association (DNA) is satisfied that its five-day “positive practice environment campaign” which ended on Friday, March 29, has been successful in getting its message out.
From Monday March 25, the nurses gathered each day, at a different venue in Roseau to draw attention to what they describe as poor working conditions of nurses on island.
DNA president, Nurse Rosie Felix said their message has been heard in Dominica and outside of the country.
“The message has reached home; it has reached outside of home. It’s been a while since DNA has done any such protest but we are just pressing on the point,” she said. “As to if they are going to respond, we don’t know because we have been ignored in the past, but we were putting [it] on the record for the Dominican people to see. We doing it public so people will also see how desperate we are for interventions in our working environment.”
Felix wants the Dominica Public Service Union (PSU), the union that represents nurses, to take their case further.
“We expect the union to take our cause further. The union had a face-to face meeting with the minister. He (PSU General Secretary, Thomas Letang) also wrote,” she revealed. “About two months ago, he wrote the permanent secretary of health asking for an update and the response he got was ‘your letter is acknowledged’.”
The DNA president said members of the association will meet with the PSU on Tuesday, April 2nd.
An open letter sent by the DNA to the minister for health, Dr. Kenneth Darroux, recently, contains a list of 28 questions seeking his response on issues such as unsatisfactory pay for nurses, violence against nurses in the workplace compounded by security concerns at the PMH and Reginald Fitzroy Armour Hospital and workplace bullying, among several other concerns.
In an interview with DNO on Friday, Felix highlighted the poor working environment at some health centres around the island.
“The Psychiatric Unit is being refurbished and nurses and patients are exposed to dust and noise. The Newtown Health Centre is in a container in the Roseau Health Centre [with] little space.. crowded for over a year. The Marigot Health Centre is closed down; Wesley Health Centre is in a crowded space themselves,” the DNA president complained.
She said the Mahaut, Vieille Case and Castle Bruce health centres are also in poor working condition.
Questioned about what some have described as a poor turn out by nurses at the protests, Felix said she is “very satisfied” by the level of participation from the nurses but stressed the victimization that they face.
“Many people want to see the hospital shutdown and all the nurses here. No! We are about giving care; that’s our mission. So, we are not shutting down hospital on nobody account. Everyday the nurses who are off are coming and every day for the week, new nurses are showing up. I’m very encouraged,” she stated.
“It tells me that the nurses are defying this victimization thing,” she added. “In any case, those who are showing up – they are victimizing them; those who are not showing up are still being victimized. Members on the executive of the nurses association are being victimized and I want the minister to look into that and stop it. I’m fed up of it.”
On Friday, DNO attempted to contact Health Minister Darroux for comment on the matter but we were told that both he and the permanent secretary were out of state.
According to media reports, he has said that he plans to hold a press conference soon to address the matter.