By Loshaun Dixon
Nurses in St. Kitts and Nevis have been hailed for their work in the Health Sector by Minister of Health Senator Wendy Phipps in observing International Nurses’ Day.
Phipps said the unprecedented impact of Covid-19 on the world population has challenged the local nursing community to render critical nursing care in this time of greatest need to help heal the sick. “To comfort the dying and to remain stoic at the centre of the healthcare continuum, even as the virus continues to leave a trail of infection, disease, death and disruption that has left no region of the world unscathed.”
The health minister was grateful that in St. Kitts and Nevis, there are not the horror stories of major pandemic hotspots such as Italy, Spain, the United States of America, the United Kingdom or France.
“We are grateful to God that, to date, we have had just 15 confirmed cases of Covid-19; with 14 recoveries; zero deaths; a high rate of testing; no community spread of the virus; close vigilance in terms of contact tracing and quarantine; and no need for hospitalization among those affected.”
She reminded them that they have been addressing the state of nursing in the Federation as early as 2016.
“The St. Christopher and Nevis Nurses and Midwives Council, the Ministry of Health, the Human Resources Department (HRD) of the Civil Service, and the nursing leadership within the community-based and institution-based health care settings have been addressing several inherited anomalies and challenges that were clearly evident upon Team Unity taking office in February 2015.”
Phipps highlighted what the government was able to achieve in improving conditions for nurses. “This process has included deliberations on the reclassification of certain nursing positions; recalibration of some pay scales, particularly among nurses who are singly or dually trained; analysis of local skills gaps with regards to specialized nursing in areas such as oncology, intensive care unit (ICU) and neonatal care; and the assessment of the legal and professional standing of graduate nurses who have exhausted all attempts at sitting the licensure examination for nurse registration, among other matters.”
She said the 2020 budget was inclusive of an increase in salaries and wages for nurses. “I would have also announced at that time that the total amount of funds earmarked for the pay raise (under personal emoluments and wages) was EC$1,141,587. I am advised that this budgeted increase in pay should be reflected in the salaries and wages of nurses from this month.”
Phipps said the Federal Cabinet – and the Federal Ministry of Health are cognizant of the fact that this year’s observance of International Nurses’ Day will be different from celebrations of previous years but still wants to celebrate the work of nurses. “As can be expected, this is due to the preoccupation of the Federation – and the rest of the world, for that matter – in responding to the formidable threats to life, liberty, public health and public safety as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, in spite of these setbacks, the Cabinet feels that now, more than ever is an ideal opportunity to celebrate our nurses here and elsewhere for their selfless service, their care and their personal sacrifice in addressing the needs of our hurting and fractured World.
“The Cabinet takes this moment to salute all of our nurses, be they practicing in the public or private sectors. “
She also hailed the work of retired nurses “who have long blazed a trail for younger generations to follow and have laid a solid foundation for the advancements in public health that we take for granted today.”