NCRHA Blocks food and water for Nurses

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In photo: NCRHA CEO Davlin Thomas and Couva Hospital 

 

The Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) wishes to confirm the incident that has been cited in today’s Guardian Newspaper of Sunday 22nd March 2020. In a shocking and sad turn of events, the Association was denied bringing their weekly supplies to nursing personnel currently working at the Couva Hospital and Multi/Training Facility. The Couva Hospital is managed by the NCRHA under the leadership of its CEO – Davlin Thomas.

As persons would know, the Couva Hospital was built in an isolated location. Away from any food establishment or business places. Staff are hamstrung in finding meal options for break times during the day. Nursing Personnel work both 8 and 12 hr shifts, spanning 3 shifts for the day, with many of them having to do double shifts due to staff shortages.

TTRNA quickly responded and made a commitment to deliver food and water to nursing staff at Couva Hospital and other institutions that are on the front-line in the battle against Covid-19. This has boosted morale and has been greatly appriciated by our members. Sadly, during one of our pre-organised drop offs at Couva Hospital (a public institution) on Saturday 21st March @ 2.30pm, TTRNA was blocked at the gate and notified by Security Supervisor Laldeo for the instituion that TTRNA and its President, was just placed on a list that prevents them from entering the compound to drop supplies or to speak to staff.

Even though TTRNA indicated that the staff were expecting us, food, water and supplies already purchased, and as perusual we do not go anywhere close to the quarantine section and always adhered to strict IPC guidelines of the facility, our request was denied. In fact, Mr. Laldeo informed us that these instructions were just received 15 minutes prior to our annouced arrival coming from the management of NCRHA. TTRNA was not even allowed to leave the items by the guard booth, for staff to come and collect it.

TTRNA sees this as an extremely dangerous situation as it raises a number of questions and concerns. This is especially in light of the statements made by the Chief Medical Officer – Dr. Dr Roshan Parasram, at the government news conference earlier in the day, where he assured - TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO IS AT NO ADDED RISK posed today, that is

different from the risk posed yesterday before the 40 persons were confirmed with Covid-19. Therefore, as a first step, the Assocaition will be doing the following:

1. Writing to the Minister of Health and the Minister of National Security, to see if this is a policy decision of the Government to deny external food, water, and other supplies to nurses.

2. Writing to the Attorney General to find out what recent Public Health Ordinance, Act of Parliament, or other such measures, has been recently been made, that blocks nurses and their union from engaging in similar activities in the future. TTRNA will not want to run afoul of the law or best practice.

3. Writing to the Minister of Labour, to find out if the Ministry can clarify the right of employees to representation at the workplace during these crises situations. TTRNA still has not had the opportunity to tour and assess the facility as was agreed to in a meeting with the National Advisor Nursing Services and the General Managers of Nursing of the 4 RHA’s on 10th March 2020. Consequently, we are unable to verify the claims of the NCRHA that all precautions are in place for the safety of staff.

4. Seeking advice from our legal counsel if NCRHA actions breeches the Industrial Relations Act, the Equal Opportunities Act, and the OSH Act.

TTRNA apologizes to nursing staff who were expecting us, but due to no fault of our own, we were not able to deliver. We will find another way to support our colleagues. Fortunately, TTRNA was able to meet our commitments to other members across the Country who are on the frontline. While the Authorities slogan has been ‘Lets do it together’, TTRNA have been noticing multiple instances where the voice of nurses (nurse managers, nurse leaders, clinical nurses, and the nurses’ union) have been ignored and sidelined during this disaster response. So much for the WHO declared ‘Year of the Nurse (and Midwife)’.

Nonetheless, TTRNA encourages all nursing and midwifery personnel to continue supporting each other, in what is expected to be a long and arduous battle against this Pandemic. While there is no ‘I SUPPORT NURSES’ campaign underway and supported by the private and public sector during this difficult period, lets start our own.

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