St Kitts – Nevis: What’s the truth? Part 2

11
2675

By Special  Correspondent

Meanwhile, reports substantiate that conditions are getting no better at St Kitts’ main hospital, the Joseph N. France General Hospital.

Running out of paracetamol is not an unusual thing. Likewise for plaster, intravenous fluids, ventolin and artrovent for asthmatic patients, and antibiotics and other kinds of medication.

And too often, patients’ prescriptions are sent to an outside pharmacy to be filled. Of course, when persons cannot afford it, someone has to help financially, and sometimes that good Samaritan is a nurse and/or another health care worker.

Staff members report that sanitation standards are low, the fans and walls in the wards are not regularly cleaned and sanitized, the air condition units are not properly maintained, food quality is low (from time to time insect faeces have been found in the food), and ostensibly, cockroaches play an unwelcome and disgustingly large role in hospital life (in the wards and all); and laundry equipment breaks down regularly.

In addition, the CT Scan, X-Ray, and laboratory machines are often on the blink, and MRIs are administered at a primate research facility ten miles away ( allegedly, owned and operated by friends of the Prime Minister).

And, of course, there’s the politics. The internal hospital politics and the politics from the leadership in the country, which work sometimes in parallel and sometimes in tandem, to favour some staff over others, to frustrate and marginalize those who ask the hard questions, or in some cases are perceived (correctly or not) as non-supporters of the administration of the day, doing things that only serve to compromise the efficiency of the institution.

Influential big-shots with no business in the matter push for certain special persons to be promoted to positions, leap-frogging them over better trained, more experienced workers, etc., as square pegs are forced into round holes, while the patients, the institution and the people of St Kitts suffer.

One senior worker said: “If you put someone in a position of seniority and he or she would route medication into a patient via the blood system (IV) instead of doing so through a muscle (IM), in the process disobeying a doctor’s order, and exposing a patient to death, then we are in deep trouble. All the more so if there might be no repercussions or, at worst, a tap on the wrist.”

A Phillipino intensive care specialist was brought in, and in quick-time, he was transferred to Admissions and Emergencies (A&E). Frustrated, he worked out his contract, resigned and left the country.

The health care picture in St Kitts is one of alarming neglect and incompetence, favouritism, victimization, and political interference. The country’s major health institution, notwithstanding it is staffed with some excellent and dedicated doctors, nurses, technicians, and other workers, is in a state of decline. This makes working at the institution even more risky.

Several highly experienced and senior employees at the institution have lamented that health care in St Kitts is the worst they’ve seen it.

Asked how they would rate the hospital and its health services on a scale of 1 to 10, one health care worker said 1. Others said 2, another said 3 or 4 (which was the highest grade given); and explained that they remain in the system because they love their work, which has been taking care of people for 12 to over 20 years as dedicated professionals.

However, the fear is that “if we leave now, things would get even worse. And that, having worked diligently over the years, asking for pay raises, better conditions, and risk pay over the years, is a legitimate and fair position to hold.”

Moreover, without being ‘spoilers’ about it, they figure that now is as good a time as ever for the Government to factor in at least the risk pay for them, as has happened elsewhere in response to COVID-19.

Several health care workers argue that an average risk pay of, say, $700 a month would add up to $210,000 a month or $2.52 million a year which can be recovered from several sources, leaving money to spare. One such source, the workers say, would be created if perhaps the Government collected a percentage of Dr Wilkinson’s fees seemingly from operations or other procedures performed by him in the Government’s Operating Theatre at the Hospital), and likewise for any other doctor or professionals who enjoy similar privileges.

With specific regard to the COVID-19, there is a Respiratory Unit at the (A&E) Unit of the Hospital. Seemingly, samples collected at the Respiratory Unit at A&E are sometimes collected directly by the lab technician and taken away, while at other times staff is told to send the samples over to the other section of A&E where they stand collected with samples from patients not suspected for COVID 19. The workers consider this to be risky and that it should be avoided at all times.

Besides, a nurse can be assigned to the COVID-19 ward today and to another ward tomorrow. The workers believe that this also should be stopped.

The complaint about poor sanitation applies to the COVID-19 ward as well.

The public sector health care workers in St Kitts are frustrated. They are concerned about the many faults in the system; and about the consequences to their patients, to the community, themselves, and their families. They don’t feel that the Government of the day is giving sufficient priority to this potentially dangerous situation.

Related: Part 1

11 COMMENTS

  1. This is really unacceptable. We boast of all of this money from the Economic Citizenship Program and these budgetary surpluses, while Ministers globetrot first class and refuse to stay in hotels priced at less than US$500 a night at our cost. Right now, COVID-19 has restricted that, meanwhile basic necessities are often not available, the equipment often doesn’t work, and our hard working nurses and other health workers are oppressed and neglected, but look dey: elections coming now. Shuffle de pack.

  2. OMG … St Kitts health care need serious help. Slackness to all in that institution. Please, please look after our health workers and clean up the health institution. Hope my granny never eat no fly faeces in her food. Lord help us.

  3. These are legitimate concerns that affects the well-being of the staff and by extension the citizens, this is a very grim situation, reading about the unsanitary conditions as a result of neglect is not just alarming but frightening. I don’t think I would like to be a patient under those conditions that these nurses have to work in, how will they be able produce good work under such frustrations, this is scary.

    I don’t think the health care would expect an answer to their problems in one day but the authorities need find a redress to their urgent needs, and see how they can cater to the most dire needs to ease the rising tension. Last thing I would want to see happening is doctors and nurses resigning especially during this indefinite crisis due to lack of risk pay, long working hours, no overtime pay, poor working conditions and decisions. Policies made by political figures in authority that severely affect nurses without consulting them on what best works or who don’t have a clue about health care.

    • These problems need to be address ASAP, if not addressed at institutional level. Nurses, address them at the polls

  4. Now the authorities have summoned the nurses to a meeting tomorrow, probably to scold and intimidate them. A stinking, oppressive attitude toward health workers is a sign of contempt for the health and well-being of the masses who are cared for by the nurses. So you treat my nurses is so you treat me .

  5. I want people to see exactly how much money Wilkinson is robbing the system. A small portion of one lone man’s illegal charges to patients in one month would be enough to pay risk pay for 200 people. Corruption at its highest. He got to go.

  6. I have a direct insight into the health field. These articles are truthful. Government leaders and medical administrators need to be respectful, reasonable and compassionate.

  7. For many years working as a nurse in St. Kitts has been torturing. The former matron daily oppressed, humiliated and bullied us. With a change of government many nurses had hope for change. However, the situation got worse.

    The minister of health on a national nurses day address call us thieves, to this day she has not apologized. In fact she recently threatened doctors in a meeting. Well those doctors were well told off, but I hope they will continue to fight. Now Dr Wilkinson so bold after getting away with his malicious behavior towards staff at the hospital gone on national television to abuse us.

    Well since we working for morals he should stop “over charge” patients, “stop asking government patient to come to your office, stop using hospital equipment and supplies for free, and stop messing with the female staff”. Do the moral thing Dr Wilkinson and “return all the money you have wrongfully collected.”

    Election coming soon I know some people like snake changes with the present environment. But just know that we have had it. That meeting Wendy Phipps and Dr Harris is planning to have let them come. I hear they trying to separate staff categories to weaken the pack. Careful Wendy, careful Deloris.
    Kerry Tuckett, remember when you stand by and don’t help us fight your are being their puppet. Open your mouth, if government lose you gone.

  8. This doesn’t even go for just the nurses. I am a staff nurse and to see these young doctors that come back trying to make a positive impact in health get quickly demoralized by the seniors; either because they are too afraid to speak up or they are already in someone’s pocket.

    This has to change. Right is right and wrong is wrong. They work for less than majority of the staff. The ministry of health use and abuse the members of staff and have these gatekeepers in administration to try and control individuals. Horrible … this is not a democracy it is an oligarchy. Pay the health care workers what they deserve. Now. They are citizens as well and they vote.

  9. The problem is not doing things in the Bible’s way. God in Romans 13:1-7 tells us that God’s duty for government is limited to praising those that do good, punishing evildoers, and to be continually attending to these matters. Owning and running things like hospitals are not among the duties that God has given to government. Therefore, when government get into these areas that God didn’t intend for government to get into, things will always be below the best that they can be.

    To get the best in medical care things will have to go the Bible’s way. The whole medical system will have to be privatized with each hospital and clinic owned by different private owners. Also, at minimum, taxes and government regulations will have to be regularly and continually cut big-time, so as to make everything affordable even for the poorest among us, and for the best running and maintaining of the institutions.

  10. I would like to express many thanks to the author and editors of this article. The nurses were informed of a review and improved salary. According to the PS of health we will be getting an increase in salary effective this month. I will keep you informed. We did not get risk pay but the matter is still on the table.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here