49 nurses leave PMH either to pursue opportunities abroad or to retire
Health minister says govt considering whether to bring foreign nurses in
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While he assured that bed capacity in the country is “not an issue”, Minister of Health Reward Wells yesterday said there is an ongoing challenge with workers in the healthcare sector.
Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet about the current capacity of the healthcare sector amidst the third wave of cases, Wells noted the government is in the process of mitigating several matters, including bed space and staff shortages.
“Bed space in the country is not an issue,” he insisted.
“We have a personnel problem in regards to us being able to adequately completely staff all of the facilities that we have, in a COVID environment.”
Wells said about 49 nurses have left Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) recently — five were retirees and the remaining took opportunities offered abroad.
“In this COVID environment, healthcare personnel were and are still in great demand globally,” he said.
“And so, The Bahamas, our own people, we are competing to ensure we hold onto them.”
The health minister indicated that the government will seek to re-engage local healthcare professionals to address the shortfalls.
“We are looking at ways to bring in as much of our domestic personnel, nurses, as possible, even the ones who have retired, so we can bring them back into the system so that they can bring their know-how, their requisite skills to the table to help assist,” he said.
He noted, however, that consideration is still being given to bringing in additional assistance in the form of foreign nurses.
“We are not afraid to go outside the boundaries, the confines of our nation to bring in persons,” he added.
Wells said he also met with the Nursing Council recently to discuss fast-tracking nursing students into the healthcare sector.
“We have a plan”
Health officials confirmed 53 new cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas on Monday, taking the number of cases in the country to 11,278.
Of the new cases, 27 were on New Providence, four were on Grand Bahama, one on the Berry Islands, two on Exuma, 17 on Cat Island and two have locations still pending.
There are currently 859 active cases and 48 hospitalized cases — 42 are moderately ill and six are in the ICU.
A recent trend of an increase in cases has been attributed to international travel and relaxed adherence to health measures.
New strains of the virus in The Bahamas are also said to be causing an increase in infections.
Wells noted yesterday that while the ministry has sent off samples for testing, it remains unknown what particular strains may be in-country.
He said of the 10 samples sent for testing, only four were viable once they arrived at the lab, adding that health officials are still awaiting the results for that.
Wells sought to further reassure the public that while cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, the government does not intend to impose stricter lockdowns at this time.
“As it stands now, the Ministry of Health has its hands around how we are moving forward,” he said.
“We are dealing with the positive cases, we are contact tracing and we’re vaccinating, and so, we have a plan as to how we believe we will bring down the numbers. The government is pursuing that plan.”