An announcement of twenty Cuban nurses to complement the Princess Margaret Hospital’s nursing staff will bring some relief but President of the Dominica Nurses Association is concerned that it might create additional challenges.
The association has been advocating for increased staff to address a shortage of nurses due to migration, better working conditions and better pay on behalf of its membership.
Health Minister Dr Kenneth Darroux and acting principal nursing officer, Terrilia Ravalliere announced at a press conference on Tuesday 1 May 2018 that the Cuban nurses will arrive here shortly.
“It’s not the first time the ministry is bring Cuban nurses to Dominica but what I will want the Dominican Nursing Council to ensure is that these nurses are proficient in English,” President of the Dominica Nurses Association, Rosie Felix told Vibes News on Wednesday 2 May.
The nurses’ ability to communicate in English is critical, Mrs. Felix explained, as otherwise “our patients will suffer, the health system will surer, the quality of care will be compromised”.
“Anytime you have a relationship with someone and the persons don’t understand each other because of a language barrier, you’re gonna have problems, you’re gonna have increased risk for medication error, [since] all our drugs are labeled in English,” Mrs. Felix explained.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services has requested five midwives, five community health nurses, two intensive care nurses, two accident and emergency nurses, as well as six registered nurses from the Cuban Government.
Mrs. Felix said while the additional nurses will bring some relief, if they are unable to speak English, this will create a stressful situation for nurses who would be forced to supervise what they are doing with respect to administering prescriptions, among other duties.
“Can you imagine being a patient and a Spanish speaking doctor or nurse is speaking to you? How do you understand,” Mrs. Felix questioned.
She emphasized that “I’m not against Cuban nurses” as they have assisted with training Dominican nurses in the past, and that all nurses are “welcome” here irrespective of where they hail from.
“I hope the Ministry of Health and our Dominica Nursing Council who is there for licensing of nurses and for the safety of public would take that into consideration. I’m sure it would be immediate relief but we don’t want relief that brings trouble,” Mrs. Felix said.