Nurses still 'sick'
Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Writer
The loud sigh and continuous murmurs revealed the obvious frustrations of the patients at the Accident and Emergency Department of the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) yesterday, as they waited to get medical assistance.
Some persons voiced their irritation quietly, upon the announcement that only emergency cases would be attended to, due to the absence of nurses in the department. They were told that they would be sent to health centres.
A Gleaner reporter posing as a patient turned up at KPH with the intention to see the doctor with a headache.
But upon entering the crowded department she was told by a security guard, "It will take a while because the nurses are on go-slow."
Still adamant to join the waiting crowd she sat patiently for her turn, but as if it was the order of the day, like several others, she was sent to seek other options.
High levels of absenteeism
The scaled-down operations at the facility came as a result of the high levels of absenteeism by registered nurses at the public facility.
Pauline Reid from Waltham Park Road, St Andrew, who said she showed up at the hospital from as early as 7 a.m., is questioning the nurses' behaviour, saying they were unprofessional.
"The nurses need to understand seh a sick people dem a deal wid. Poor people can't manage them things here so the Government need to do something about it," she added.
Another patient, Maureen Edwards, also shared similar sentiments. She said she only wasted her time when she went in search of medical assistance at the island's major hospital.
A Gleaner probe yesterday revealed that operations at St Ann's Bay, Port Maria and Port Antonio hospitals were scaled down to only emergency cases. However, it was business as usual at Mandeville, Cornwall and Spanish Town hospitals.
Approximately 45 per cent of the 410 nurses scheduled to work at the Kingston Public and Busta-mante hospitals stayed off the job yesterday.
At the University Hospital of the West Indies, 31 out of the 176 nurses scheduled for the early shift called in sick.
Meanwhile, Labour Minister Pearnel Charles is calling for an end to the industrial action and asks that the interest of the public takes precedence.
The second day of silent protest by nurses is over what they have termed the Government's refusal to implement a reclassification exercise.