BNA calls for safety and support of nurses dealing with COVID-19

The Barbados Nurses Association (BNA) is calling on the Ministry of Health & Wellness and by extension the Government of Barbados, to make the safety of nurses who have to be on the front-line in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic a priority and to take strong action in order to ensure they have the protective equipment they need and the relevant training.

The Barbados Nurses Association (BNA) outlined its position, in a recent statement regarding COVID-19.

“What we know is that the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak is exposing the vital need for quality, well-staffed, resilient public health systems, because it is a potentially deadly threat to front-line healthcare workers, in particular our nurses,” BNA President Joannah Waterman, who spoke on the behalf of the Executive Body indicated.

“Nurses across all healthcare settings of Barbados will become the front-line workers in this infectious climate. Special attention will have to be given to nurses who administer care to these patients, in the quarantine and isolation centres and those who will have likely exposure in screening,” she continued.

“We expect the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the government to take strong action in order to ensure there is sufficient Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and training, so that nurses can stay healthy while saving lives, in caring for these ill/infectious persons. Consider at Stage 3 (that) measures may be needed to support nurses, who will be working really long hours. Consider care may need to be provided for the children and dependents of nurses,” she added.

In giving the BNA’s perspective on the current approach being taken, Waterman however pointed out that after discussion with Management of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), the institution that may bear the greatest impact, the BNA is satisfied with the level of proactive plans being instituted, regarding protection of the hospital from known cases, at this level of Stage 2 and hence the setting up and speciality manning of the Enmore, Harrison’s and Paragon centres.

However, the BNA did note that other healthcare settings and tertiary level institutions such as the Geriatric, District hospitals, as well as Psychiatry, will also need to be considered for this training and preparation for nurses to increase safety, as COVID-19 transmission accelerates.
“While we are satisfied with the level of training offered and equipment being made accessible so far at Stage 2 in the critical areas, however, when we enter into Stage 3 (where we have ) community spread and the inability to maintain contact tracing, the question will be whether sufficient protective equipment and resources will be available, across all settings,” Waterman maintained.

“The Professional Association will support delivery of care to such patients, only if nurses working in these environments are provided with adequate equipment, to enable them to be safe while delivering care,” she stressed, noting that authorities also need to consider how caregivers would be cared for, should it reach a stage of likely infection of local nurses and other healthcare workers.

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