Ambulance on hold; GB crippled as a result of EMS personnel sickout action
Grand Bahama was left in a medical crisis since 4 p.m. when it is alleged that all Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff called in sick.
The sickout was conducted in protest of the inaction by the Public Hospital Authority (PHA) to address and rectify the "hazardous working conditions" faced by all EMS personnel and patients in their care.
The Freeport News has previously reported on a number of grievances made by EMS personnel leading up to yesterday's sickout, citing the severe lack of proper equipment to execute their duties inclusive of; dilapidated ambulances, inadequate training and development, non-existent health insurance coverage, equipment and testing to detect and prevent exposure to various airborne diseases, staff shortages and updated revision of procedures when conducting rescue operations during national disasters.
According to information received by The Freeport News, EMS personnel sent a letter to PHA managing director Herbert Brown, Grand Bahama Health Services (GBHS) acting hospital administrator Sandra Mortimer-Russell, GBHS administrative officer Dixie Jones-Connolly, GBHS manager Selwyn Strachan, Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville, Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez and Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) President John Curtis outlining changes they wish to see take effect immediately.
BPSU president Curtis addressed several issues faced by EMS personnel within the past year inclusive of exposure to hazardous chemicals, Cholera and Tuberculosis (TB) and he revealed that a patient that was in the care of EMS personnel eventually died of TB.
According to Curtis, testing and treatment for these matters of exposure only occurred after information was leaked anonymously to EMS personnel (who are not on the notification list for infectious exposure) from a concerned source within medical services.
The morale among EMS staffers is at an all time low due to maltreatment from those in authority Curtis affirmed.
Hopes are that the actions taken by EMS personnel will bring about favorable results and institute necessary change in communication and procedure between EMS personnel and PHA.
With EMS personnel being in the frontline attending to the health care needs of the public it is disheartening that safety for them is not of top priority one concerned medical consultant said.
"We are afraid of contracting infectious diseases and spreading them to our families and to the many innocent patients that require our services and all we ask is that PHA and those in proper authority take these matters seriously and ensure everything is done to protect us as we are the first responders," an EMS staffer wishing to remain anonymous said.
Calls to PHA managing director for comment on the sickout were not returned up to press time last evening.
© 2012 The Freeport News