Nurses should not have to work in fear, official says
By K. NANCOO-RUSSELL
Freeport News Reporter
Making an ardent call to the necessary authorities to increase security measures at the nation's hospitals and other medical facilities, Nursing Officer I. Julian Mullings said yesterday that nurses should not have to work in fear for their safety and should feel comfortable in their workplace.
Mullings' statements comes in the wake of a recent incident at the Rand Memorial Hospital, in which a would-be patient terrorized staff and patients at the Accident and Emergency Section of the hospital with a fake gun.
He was addressing the opening ceremony for the Nurses Recognition Month 2007, which was held yesterday at the hospital.
Under the theme, "Positive Practice Environments: Qua-lity workplaces Equals Quality Patient Care," the Grand Bahama Health Services have planned a month of activities to recognize the contribution made by nurses to the field of health care.
The month of May also coincides with the birthday of an esteemed pioneer in the nursing profession, Nurse Florence Nightingale.
In his remarks, Mullings noted that violence has found its way into the working environment and is now causing serious implications regarding the safety of the workers.
"We have seen the escalation of crime and violence coming into the work circuit not only by staff members, but against staff members, nurses in particular, from patients and relatives themselves because they are not served fast enough or because the attention given to them was considered less in quality compared to another patient, just to name a few," he said.
"We have also seen and have experienced, where victims of crime and violence were being attacked by their pursuers in the hospital setting."
Mullings noted that one such instance resulted in the death of a nurse in New Providence, Nurse Joan Lund, who succumbed to injuries received in a similar attack.
"What has been done to protect staff against such acts against their person ? It is my view that there needs to be a drastic measure taken by the employer to seriously address the issues of violence against the employees in the very near future," he said.
"We must be seen to have a sense of commitment to our staff members by doing all things necessary to protect them while they are on the job site. We cannot have a patient attacking the very person who was placed there to care for them. There must be serious consequences for these actions against a nurse and it is up to us to speak up and let our voices be heard against such acts."
Mullings pointed out that it should be seen as unacceptable for a nurse who was attacked on the job to still be instructed to continue providing nursing care to their attacker. This negligible act places the nurse in a vulnerable position, he said, and can create psychological trauma for the nurse.
He asserted that all staff members must be seen and treated as a valuable commodity. Noting that there has been much said about the Patient Bill of Rights, Mul-lings, questioned whether a Nurses or Employee Bill of Rights should be implemented as it pertains to violent acts against them while on the job.
"Violence against nurses in the workplace must be addressed and it must send a direct message that such acts will not be tolerated which must be followed by harsh punishment," he said.
Mullings also took the opportunity to commend male nurses in The Bahamas, who are far outnumbered by their female counterparts. He noted that in Grand Bahama Health Services, there were 196 nurses on staff, of which only eight were males.
Attracting persons to the profession, especially males, he added, is something that must be worked on feverishly by the administration in order to continue the development of the field.
"It is said that the biggest challenge for any government including The Bahamas and any health care service around the world is for recruitment and retention of nurses," he said.
Activities planned for Nurses Recognition Month include a morning devotion, nurses' breakfast, float parades and a nurses' symposium.
OFFICIAL OPENING Willamae Stuart, Public Health Authority nursing services advisor, brought opening remarks during yesterday's opening ceremony for Nurses Month 2007 in the foyer of the Rand Memorial Hospital.(Photos by JENNEVA RUSSELL)
© 2007 The Freeport News