Health Minister Weighs in on Protest Staged by KHMH Healthcare Professionals
The Minister of Health and Wellness, Kevin Bernard, also expressed surprise and disappointment at the recent protest staged by the KHMHA Workers Union. The peaceful protest was organized to demand better working conditions, proper resources and higher pay for healthcare workers and was attended by dozens of union members and supporters. Minister Bernard, says that he was blindsided by the protest and that he had not been made aware of the union’s concerns beforehand.
Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “When I left that meeting I felt that we would have – and in fact Mr.Baird gave an interview right after the meeting saying that they would have called off their industrial action. You see you can’t speak from one side of the you mouth and say something from the other side. We have to be real but again they have a right to do what they want to do I’m not going to dispute that but I really call upon them to really let’s sit down, work out your issues with the management, management is prepared to work out the matters and CEO Cansino and the management team is prepared to sit down and work it out. The board is there to listen, to address the concerns and again as I said to Mr.Baird, you sit on the board these issues if you feel that they’re not being resolved at the management level then this is when you take those matters to the board. In the instance that was never done.”
Another burning issue that was put on the table during the recent three-hour-long meeting between the union, the hospital’s management and the ministry was the alleged subpar supplies at the hospital. The workers complain of inadequate gloves, tape, and other medical equipment. Minister Bernard says this is due to the misinformation that is sometimes provided by the workers and inadequate inventory checks in the storage room.
Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “The concerns that was raised, I know they brought an issue with some gloves that they claim the quality of some of those gloves and the tape -”
Reporter: Those have been two of the recurring supplies or equipment that they seem to be always faulty the gloves and the tape.
Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “Yeah that’s what they’re saying but now what we’re trying to ascertain whether are these new supplies or whether these are supplies that have been sitting in the stores. Now let me say this however I understand today that when you look at the store, and I want to challenge Love FM, for you all to meet with the CEO and go into the store room and look at all the supplies that exist at the KHMH inventory there is a lot of supplies and so when they say “We don’t have gloves.” it’s not something that they don’t have gloves. They may mean that they don’t have a specific size, maybe 8.5 size but they have 8, they have I don’t know if the gloves go all the way up to 9 but they have different sizes of gloves. I understand that there are these IV lines that they use they want one that has an additional part that attaches but from my CEO information there was a request at the time that that is the kind that they wanted to use all of a sudden they’re saying they don’t want that. So we all understand that but like what we agreed at that meeting that we have to utilize what we have in the meantime. In the new tender this is why in this new tender based on what their needs are this is what we’re going to be putting out.”
Minister Bernard says this recent protest delays the progress he thought they were making to resolve these long-standing issues.
Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “I really want to make a plea to the unions that in good faith we had that meeting just for you all to go right back and do same as we had agreed that we were going to prefer to dialogue, work things out, and again we were there just as the referee. Remember KHMH is a statutory body who is managed by a board, oversee the operations by a board the ministry is just the regulator. And so we as one of the member I will put exactly what one of the members Mr.Tillett put it that he was happy to see that I was able to be there to referee. I heard Mr.Baird trying to utilize a word as a baby sitter trying to downplay the actual purpose of what we were doing there but I really am serious that this is no joke and like he said lies cost lives and we need to be truthful too and they need to be factual on some of the things that they are putting out there and I think it’s an injustice that they’re doing. At the end of the day it is the people who depend on those services.”