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Nurses' voices must get 'stronger, louder' - Healthcare professionals urged to shape up for national leadership

Published:Monday | July 23, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Denese Dacres-Reeves, LASCO/NAJ Nurse of the Year 2018-2019, is assisted in holding her trophy by Peter Mark Chin (right), deputy executive chairman, LASCO Affiliated Companies and managing director of LASCO Distributors Ltd, while Desmond Campbell Jr, LASCO/NAJ Nursing Student of the Year 2018-2019, looks on during the 19th annual LASCO/NAJ Nurse of the Year Awards 2018-2019 held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

Jamaica's nurses are being urged to make their voices "stronger and louder" if the nation is to gain a better healthcare system.

Ethnie Miller-Simpson, chief branding officer and CEO of Zinergy International, in addressing the LASCO/Nurses' Association of Jamaica (NAJ) Nurse of the Year awards ceremony on Saturday, told the nurses that they must begin to shape themselves for leadership.

"The voice of the nurse must be stronger and louder," said Miller-Simpson.

"The nursing profession must produce leaders throughout the healthcare system. In addition to changes and education, strong leadership will be required to realise the vision of a transformed healthcare system."

Miller-Simpson contended that although the public is not used to the idea of seeing nurses as leaders, they must begin to get themselves involved in the design, implementation, and evaluation of reforms to the healthcare system.




"Nurses will need leadership skills and competences to act as full partners with physicians and other health professionals in redesigning and reforming efforts across the healthcare system," Miller-Simpson said.

During the awards ceremony, which took place at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, Denese Dacres Reeves walked away as the 2018-2019 LASCO/NAJ Nurse of the Year.

Dacres Reeves, who could not hold back the tears as NAJ President Carmen Johnson announced her as the winner of the prestigious title, is a nurses manager at the Bustamante Hospital for Children. She is also chairperson of the Welfare Committee and co-chair of the Friends of the Bustamante Committee.

Dacres Reeves has received a number of awards, including the 2004 President's Award from the NAJ and Most Outstanding Manager of 2011 from the Spanish Town Hospital. On Saturday, along with the Nurse of the Year trophy, Dacres Reeves received a cash prize of $350,000 and a host of other prizes.

Runner-up Lillian Lewis McDonald, a registered nurse and midwife at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital, received a cash prize of $200,000 along with a trophy; while Marika Davis Miller, a registered nurse, midwife, and nephrology nurse at the Mandeville Regional Hospital, was awarded the second runner-up trophy and $100,000.

"I am indeed humbled yet honoured to be selected as the Nurse of the Year for 2018-2019," Dacres Reeves said, giving thanks for the title.

"I note from observation that being the nurse of the year is a great honour as I am expected to be the face of all the nurses of Jamaica and as LASCO ambassador," she said, further mentioning that her predecessor, Natalie Hylton Levy, had left her big shoes to fill.

But she made it clear that she was up to the task and was ready to take on the challenges that came with the crown.