Thursday, June 30, 2022


Wells on Nurses Overtime Pay Debacle. What happened and why?

Minister of Health Renward Wells defended the government’s position on overtime pay for nurses for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wells said the government paid out some $162,000 to nurses from the Department of Public Health for working overtime. But it was later discovered that some nurses may not have been paid the overtime money due to time logged in manually but was not digitally recorded.

Why it matters

Some members of the Bahamas Nurses Union led by its president, Amancha Williams protested in Rawson Square on Wednesday morning demanding the overtime money promised to them by the government.

Pineridge Member of Parliament Frederick McAlpine in the House of Assembly on Wednesday suggested that Wells was deceptive for saying nurses were paid.

Nurses protested on Wednesday during the session of Parliament.

The big picture

When Duane Sands served as Minister of Health, healthcare workers on the frontline of the pandemic were guaranteed a $5,000 honorarium for March, April and May.

This was when the Ministry of Health was having a hard time finding health officials willing to handle COVID patients in the healthcare system.

What Wells says

Wells said when he became the Minister of Health in July, he was informed that nurses in the Department of Public health were not paid during Hurricane Dorian and some nurses were not paid for overtime during the pandemic.

“As minister, I asked the Ministry of Health for all documents that should have been logged—the quantum, the cost was given to this minister to go to the cabinet for the cabinet to make a decision to pay. The cabinet paper was written. I was told that the $162,000 for the nurses for March to September was all the log for the work. And that was paid,” Wells said.

Wells said he was surprised when the new year rolled in, and he heard that some nurses who worked overtime were not paid.

He vowed that the situation will be cleared up once the claims being made, are verified.

According to Wells, nurses are the only frontline workers who have already received the overtime pay, while doctors and support staff await the payment.

Wells Commits to Payment for COVID Healthworkers

Minister of Health Reward Wells said healthcare officials will be paid for the services that they gave during the onset of the pandemic, as promised by the government.

Why it matters

  • The government promised voluntary payment to health workers who worked between March and June. They will receive–an honorarium of $5000.  Family members of healthcare workers who lost their loved ones will receive $100,000.
  • On Monday, the Bahamas Nurses Union said the government has until December 31st to pay them for their services. The union’s president Amancha Williams called the government “dishonest”  as they have yet to receive the honorarium.

What Health Minister Renward Wells says

Renward Wells acknowledges the honorarium is still outstanding but promises the payment of the monies when the government is in a better position to do so.

  • He says, “No one has gotten the honorary. No one has. Now what the gov of the Bahamas has also been doing is paying the overtime as a result of covid, in paying the nurses the overtime. The doctors, we are still looking at their overtime. And we’re looking for overtime for the support staff.”
  • Wells adds, “We will pay the honorarium to those folks who qualify for the honorarium. It’s for everybody in the healthcare system. It was to encourage folks initially at the beginning of the pandemic who stepped forward and said, ‘Here am I Lord, send me.’ That is what it was.”

What BNU Amancha Wiliams says

Amancha Williams told the Tribune that the union wishes for better treatment from the government.

  • “Our essential staff have worked and have sacrificed their families. Many of their family members were sick and some of them were sick. We have lost three nurses to COVID. These families have yet to hear anybody consult them on the insurance. The government has yet to speak to these families on their insurances. This looks terrible on the government.”
  • Williams added, “You cannot treat healthcare workers like that. You cannot treat all the essential workers like this. If you couldn’t afford it, then come to the table and speak to the unions. We understand that this might be an economical problem, but you have not cut the salaries of the government ministers or the members of Parliament and you are still making sidewalks.


What Wells Says He Is Doing to Fill the Gap in the Healthcare System

As COVID-19 numbers swell, Minister of Health Renward Wells admitted the shortfall in the healthcare system, exposed by the pandemic.

“Surges in infection particularly expose us to shortfalls of healthcare providers due to illness,” Wells said during his COVID-19 Update Communication in the House of Assembly, on Wednesday.

Last week, numerous pregnant women aired their concerns with the Princess Margaret Hospital, saying they were treated poorly while giving birth, with little attention from nurses.

And since then, two women have died after giving delivering babies at the country’s premier institute.

These cases have raised public alarm.

said the nation’s healthcare personnel are its most valuable resource in combating COVID-19.

How many health workers are impacted by COVID-19?

194 health care workers, inclusive of physicians, nurses, and allied health staff, are unable to deliver care significantly, which is impacting the delivery of care to COVID and non-COVID patients.

How does Wells promise to fill the gap?

Wells said officials are identifying and engaging healthcare providers both within and outside of hospital settings whose workloads have been reduced due to the cancellation of elective procedures, outpatient visits, and the reduction of non-COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“We have also assessed the staff capacity to support the care of critically ill patients, particularly during surges. Trainees, nurses, physicians, technicians, retirees, and other support staff have all been co-opted to fill gaps across the healthcare workforce.

He said his ministry has re-engaged 29 physician senior house officers, who will immediately be added to the medical services capacity. He added that the facility at Breezes is also geared toward alleviating some of these stressors.

The Health Minister said, “We have seen unprecedented cooperation among healthcare workers.

“With the Public Hospitals Authority, Doctors Hospital, and Department of Public Health acute care delivery institutions, staff are working together in a focused, professional and seamless fashion for the best outcome for patients and the good of our Bahamas.”

BNU President Warns Young People and Govt Following Death of Nurse

Following the death of Registered Nurse Bernadette Rolle, who is the latest COVID-19 victim to succumb to the infectious disease, Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) President Amancha Williams pleaded with the public to take the virus seriously and stay at home.

She told Eye Witness News, “We have nurses who are home self-medicating, [experiencing] respiratory distress. Please Bahamas, stay home. This is not the partying time. This is serious. We have lost our own. We are begging you, stay at home and hand sanitize, and do what you ought to do as a Bahamian citizen.”

Image may contain: 3 people, text that says 'All about Me!'
Nurse Bernadette Rolle Photo credit: Rhvae Rolle Williams FB

Rolle, a nurse at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Center, died on Friday after a battle with the virus. She remained at home and reports say she presented herself at the hospital twice, but was turned away due to lack of beds at the facility.

Williams said Rolle had a comorbidity.

“You don’t send anyone home, especially a nurse. A nurse should have had a bed in ICU, like we do for the other rest of hierarchies,” Williams lamented,

Nurses union president warns the government

Williams said nurses have had enough and if the situation does not improve, the union will engage in strike action.

“As of today, if things ain’t right, you could assure every nurse in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas will be sitting under a tree as of today,” she said.

“Prime Minister, we are tired. Minister of health, we’re tired.”

Williams continued, “I am telling the nurses in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, if there is no PPE and no N95 mask, no boot, no cover for your head, please, do not enter. Sit and wait till the relevant authority come and bring them.”

Former health minister responds to the death of his constituent

Former Health Minister Duane Sands paid tribute to Rolle saying health workers pay a high price as front liners of the coronavirus.

In a Facebook post, he said, “The death of Bernadette Rolle RN…reminds us of the price that healthcare workers pay in the battle against Covid-19 in the Bahamas.

“Like our colleague, Judson Eneas – she has succumbed in this war. I was privileged to know her. She lived in the area I represent. I offer sincere condolences to her children and family.”

Sands added that the true number of infected individuals are not known as confirmed Covid-19 cases are only a percentage of the total.

Sands encouraged the public to stay safe and practice social distancing.

Health minister offers condolences

The new Minister of Health Renward Wells confirmed Rolle’s death and acknowledged her contribution the health sector.

“As we mourn the loss of a brave warrior from the frontline in our fight against the pandemic COVID-19, the nation is grateful for her service.

“Nurse Rolle was dedicated to her family, to her patients, and to the institutions of nursing and SRC.

“On behalf of the Government of The Bahamas and my Ministry, and on my own behalf, extend sincere condolences, particularly to her two children, her patients that she dearly loved, and to her nursing colleagues at SRC who are her extended family,” he said.

DNA Chairman to Govt: Do the Right Thing for Doctors and Nurses

The Democratic National Alliance Chairman Omar Smith call on the government to implement proper COVID-19 protocols and administer sufficient equipment for doctors and nurses, after they walked off the job Tuesday morning.

His party assembled at the Princess Margaret Hospital to join hospital staff.

“This is unacceptable. At the beginning of a two week lockdown, those who at the front tine to protect us from this deadly disease, the government has saw fit to abandon and leave vulnerable. We believe this must be fixed immediately. We call on the competent authority to get the needed equipment to these doctors immediately and institute the proper protocols,” Smith said.

Bahamas Doctor Union President Dr. Melisande Bassett said the walkout is “not a sickout,” saying while helping the Bahamian people, doctors and nurses must do so “safely and sensibly.”

She said staff will not put itself in harm’s way as it waits for the situation to be addressed.

Doctors Union President: This Is Not a Sickout, But We Won’t Put Ourselves in Harm’s Way

Just one day after Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced a minimum of 2-weeks lockdown for the country, nurses and doctors refused to show up for work and many walked off the job on Tuesday, citing lack of protocols for safety, as COVID-19 numbers continually climb.

Bahamas Doctors Union President Dr Melisande Bassett told reporters, “We are at a tipping point where our staff members have become compromised because of the overwhelming number of patients with suspected COVID symptoms presenting to A&E.”

She said all of the COVID-19 isolation rooms are occupied, therefore patients are on A&E floor.

Dr. Bassett reassured that the actions taken by nurses and doctors are not a strike.

“This is not a sickout. We want to help the Bahamian people, but we have to do it safely and sensibly. We are waiting for this situation to be rectified. Until that happens, you can’t ask anyone to put themselves in harm’s way,” she said.

Dr. Minnis, on yesterday evening, revealed that COVID-19 numbers have placed a strain on bed capacity and health workers, as a result, the 2-week lockdown was necessary.

In recent days, the country has seen massive and rapid increases in cases, with figures presently standing at 679 cases–572 active cases with 22 people in hospital.

Last month, Dr. Bassett complained that the hospital was without interns and short over 30 doctors.

She took issue with the Public Hospital Authority’s failure to complete the process for hiring new interns, saying it “has certainly put a strain on departments that are scrambling to find additional help to care for patients. Could you imagine the fallout if we have a surge of COVI-19 cases?” she asked at the time.

It is hoped that the country can get a quick and sturdy grasp of the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo Credit: Eye Witness News