Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
OCHO RIOS, St Ann:
HEALTH MINISTER Dr Fenton Ferguson last Saturday hailed the work of nurse anaesthetists, describing their role in the health sector as critical in preserving lives.
Addressing the 35th annual scientific conference of the Jamaica Association of Nurse Anaesthetists (JANA) at Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios, Ferguson also noted that nurse anaesthetists currently administer more than 65 per cent of general anaesthesia in the public-health sector.
He further pointed out that, under the current amendments to the Nursing and Midwives Act, there are some benefits to the nurse anaesthetists.
"I am aware that you have been lobbying for some time to get the necessary legislative and registration issues resolved to facilitate your licensing as anaesthetists," Ferguson said.
"You currently operate under the Government Standing Orders, which places you at a disadvantage in terms of bargaining. Perhaps there is a danger of being a minority, as I am told that there are currently only 56 members of your group, employed exclusively in the public health sector. However, under the current amendments to the Nursing and Midwives Act there should be better room for manoeuvre."
Ferguson also said much more effort will have to be devoted to making the nursing profession more rewarding and integral to the process of health-service delivery.
Regarding the previously announced centres of excellence that are to be established in St Thomas, Westmoreland, St Elizabeth and St Ann, the minister said these should be completed by the first quarter of the 2013-2014 financial year. He said the $100 million to fund the project has been identified.
Meanwhile, president of JANA Maxine Nicholson said, despite challenges the nurse anaesthetists continue to serve the country well.
She said the organisation is still seeking equity for its members, some of whom are being denied certain claims because they work in the rural area.
"You have those in the corporate area benefiting more in terms of what they get than those in the rural area. They are not rewarded for some hours," exclaimed Nicholson. "Claims are denied in certain areas; so we're fighting for equity right across the board for all our members."
The three-day conference served as part of the requirement for re-registration of nurse anaesthetists. The nurses were exposed to topics such as infection control, medical ethics, trauma of change, traumatic brain injury, among other topics.
"Our focus this year is suggested by our theme 'Nurse Anaesthetists Impacting the Care of Patients Globally', Nicholson explained.
The conference also saw awards being presented to Hyacinth Rankine, the JANA Nurse of the Year, and Andrea Wright, who received the Dorothy Denny Award, compliments of CIBC/First Caribbean.