On Tuesday 22nd October 2019, Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) was pleased to be part of a walk-about through of the Port of Spain Accident and Emergency (A&E) department together with the senior management of North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA). Among the delegation who spoke with staff included the CEO - Mr. Terron Gilchrist, GM Nursing, GM Quality, and GM Human Resource.
This visit was based on a request from TTRNA, to allow the nursing personnel to express directly to management about the concerns they have been faced with in A&E department, since the closure of the Central Block. Even though TTRNA have held several meetings with staff over the last year and brought their concerns to the relevant persons, the Union saw the need for management to listen for themselves the plight of the staff.
The opportunity for these fruitful discussions with staff at A&E, came in the midst of TTRNA quadrennial conference which was being held at the Hilton Trinidad. Nonetheless, TTRNA continues to demonstrate its ability to manoeuvre seamlessly between union and association activities.
While the visit was envisioned to encompass at least two other wards, time did not permit as the nurses were able to share in-depth the problems they face, while recommending possible solutions. Some of which were readily accepted by management.
Two (2) of the major solutions to treat with the overcrowding that have been accepted by the CEO, are as follows:
1. No restrictions for nursing personnel who want to work ‘POOL’ in A&E department. This includes bringing in double trained nurses from St Ann’s Hospital or from other regions, allowing the unit to be fully staffed at all times (A&E nurses, if nursing management is unsure or hampering this process, please report same to TTRNA immediately).
2. Having a cut-off point at A&E department for lower category patients. These less critical patients are to be referred to other NWRHA health facilities or other regions, where they can readily access care for conditions that do not warrant A&E department treatment (A&E nurses, if admitting doctors are not abiding by this policy, please notify TTRNA immediately).
These two solutions, along with the others that has to be further developed, will go into immediate effect until an ease is reached within the department. That ease is expected soon with the coming on stream of the refurbished and retrofitted ‘OLD COSTAATT’ building, which is expected to be completed and handed over to the region in mid-November 2019. This is to be followed closely by the building of the new Central Block. Management also agreed to work on issues with security personnel, security doors, cleaning of air-conditioning ducting, pharmacy hours, and the un-acceptable transfers back-into the A&E post-surgery.
The CEO also took the opportunity to publicly announce at this meeting with staff, some measures both TTRNA and NWRHA management have been working feverishly on over the last three months.
They are as follows:
1. Over three (3) million dollars have been allocated to pay outstanding increments owed to staff this October month-end. This is the first batch of a wider plan to treat with this debt to staff, and the Association is appreciative of this plan coming into action.
2. Over seventy-five (75) nurses to be made permanent within the month of November (pending board approval). A number of nursing personnel would have contacted TTRNA, complaining about being given successive short-term contracts of 6 months, 9 months and 1 year. TTRNA would have brought-up these issues in our monthly non-crisis meeting with the NWRHA, and we are now pleased that this issue has been resolved.
TTRNA will be visiting other units within POSGH and NWRHA, with management shortly as we continue to work to improving the lives of our members. TTRNA commends the CEO – Mr. Terron Gilchrist, for his visionary and astute leadership, as he heads one of the most complicated Regional Health Authorities.
Once again, while others talk, TTRNA works.