We, Nurses are often referred to as the “backbone” of the healthcare system and the front liners and gatekeepers in healthcare. Yet, few seem to care about the nurses, as we face this global COVID-19 pandemic which is adversely impacting our healthcare system.
We have been bombarded with all kind of negative publicity in recent weeks. Yet we come to work every day, go to our respective clinics, wards and departments, risking our lives and that of our families, while we care for our people in our hospitals, in our clinics and in our communities.
Yes, we come to work every day because of our commitment to the health and well-being of our people, and we know that our hospitals and our clinics need our service in order to function properly and to provide quality care. We come to work every day amidst the chaos and workplace challenges.
We come to work each day in spite of our uncertainties, and fear of contracting COVID-19, becoming ill, or even dying. We come to work each day feeling fatigued, distress and overwhelmed; yet we come, because our country need us to serve.
We come into the workplace every day, where we have nurse leaders who are only concerned about staff numbers, they are cold-hearted, they have no humanity, they do not know what it is to care about their staff.
This pandemic has shed much light on the weaknesses in our Nursing Leadership here in the Bahamas, particularly in the Public Health Sector. We see reactive and not proactive leadership. We jump from one crisis to another in our institutions; there is no cohesive nursing strategy or visionary plan to deal with this pandemic.
Where are our senior Nurse Leaders? They have no voice. We are not hearing from them. During this whole pandemic, we have not seen or heard from Mrs. Lillian Charlton, our Nursing Services Advisor, Public Hospitals Authority. We have heard very little from our Acting Director of Nursing, Mrs. Gina Dean.
The Nurses Association of the Bahamas (NACB) is supposed to be the premier voice for the nursing profession and is responsible for the welfare of nurses in the country. Where is the voice of the Nurses Association? Where is the voice of the President Ms. Rebecca Johnson? Where is the leadership? The President is not speaking to the plight of nurses and the nursing profession; she is not addressing the crisis that nurses are facing.
As nurses, we are not interested in some fancy “girls club”, we pay our monthly dues. We deserve to be well represented. We need nurse leaders who are willing and able to address our issues. Weak leadership will not work, especially in a national crisis. We desire strong, mature nursing leadership, not nurse leaders who are more concerned about protecting their positions or, concerned about not getting any promotion.
Additionally, we need nurse leaders who are not intimidated by institutional or political powers. We, the younger generation of nurses, we call for representation. We want to know that you care, that you are concerned about us, and that you are addressing the issues that affect us.
There are a lot of us nurses out there who are hurting, who are afraid and who are going through some rough times. When we go to our wards and our units and are exposed to COVID-19 and are placed in quarantine or isolation, we are at home alone, scared for our lives and for our families.
We are tired because we are working so much overtime, just trying to keep the hospital open because so many of our nursing colleagues are out in quarantine because of exposure to the coronavirus.
We quarantine, we come back to work and we are again exposed, we go out again and return to work. It has become a cycle. No one knows what the long-term effects of all this will be on our personal health as nurses; it is physically and emotionally exhausting.
We are particularly concerned about our nursing colleagues in Grand Bahama and Abaco. They have had to endure so much following the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian and now having to deal with this COVID-19 pandemic.
Say what one may about the President of the Nurses Union, Ms. Amancha Williams. We may not all agree with everything that she says, or the manner in which she does it, but at least we know that she is out there being a voice for nurses and fighting for our interest. Where are the rest of our Nurse Leaders?
A concerned nurse