The quality and quantity of staff is one of the primary factors that affect the level of care offered at any health facility. And even as the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) observes National Health Care Quality Week, it has been recognised that retaining the desired level and quota of staffers, particularly in the area of nursing, is a great challenge.
In fact, according to Quality Improvement Manager, Yolanda Renville, the public hospital is in dire need of nursing staff to service some crucial sections.
“We simply do not have the amount of staff we need to man sections of the hospital such as Maternity and the A&E (Accident and Emergency)…in every single department in terms of the clinical practice we are heavily short of staff,” Renville intimated during an interview with this publication.
She disclosed that the A &E Unit for instance, requires augmentation by 200 per cent while the Maternity Department is in need of an increase of about 300 to 400 per cent in terms of nurses. “We need 211 staff in Maternity but we only have 58…so that is the kind of limitation we have and to produce these nurses is a very hard task,” informed the Quality Manager.
The state of affairs exists despite a move by the Ministry of Health in recent times to accept applicants for the various nursing programmes in unusually high numbers.
This publication was reliably informed that of the masses trained in the various categories of nursing, a mere 20 per cent are able to successfully complete their final examinations.
Nurses in training across the country (Georgetown School of Nursing, New Amsterdam School of Nursing and the Charles Rosa School of Nursing) are permitted three chances to sit their final exams after which they become ineligible to further studies in this regard. Persons are also able to undertake similar nursing programmes at the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.
The GPHC is furnished mainly with the successful graduates from the Georgetown School of Nursing. “What we have is what we inherit from the nursing school,” disclosed Renville who further disclosed that the hospital is also tasked with sending nurses to undertake upgraded training every year. Currently 12 nurses have been released by the hospital to undertake a one-year training in midwifery, Renville informed. She is optimistic that the nurses will return upon completion of the programme in January of next year.
This is of great concern since according to her; persons in the nursing profession are in high demand not only countrywide but internationally.
She disclosed that a number of nurses have resigned after completing their contract with the Ministry of Health, which could last for as much as five years, and migrate either to the private sector or even abroad.
And then there are those nurses who are prepared to pay-off their contract in order to move-on, Renville said. “We are not able to keep our quality nurses so we are faced with a really big problem,” intimated Renville a nurse of eight years who formerly practiced in the Emergency Unit of the public hospital.
And the existing challenge at the high volume, fast-pace health facility has resulted in an undesirable nurse to patient ratio, according to Renville. She explained that the required ratio in critical care units is one nurse to one patient while in a regular medical/surgical ward it is at least one nurse to three patients.
But according to Renville the situation that obtains at the GPHC is that there is often a ratio of one nurse to 20 or even 30 patients. It is an even greater challenge to realise the one nurse to one patient ratio in the critical care units, she added.
However, she insisted that such strenuous situations are no excuse for inadequate care and less than acceptable customer relations. In fact, she noted that the hospital is constantly putting measures in place to ensure that only the best service is offered. “We are human but we are also trained in a way to handle our emotions and to be professionals and handle people who are not nice to us,” insisted Renville.
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