And from the Old Capital, we take you to Sugah City where the demonstration by nurses continued at the home of the north’s most important health facility. Dale McDougall was at the Northern Regional Hospital and here is that report.
Nurses: “What do we want? No deductions! What do we want? Better working conditions! What do we want? More resources! What do we want? More staffing! When do we want it? Now! When do we want it? Now! When do we want it? Now! When do we want it? Now!”
Dale McDougall, Love FM News: That is the sound of the nurses here that are gathered in front of the Northern Regional Hospital in Orange Walk Town. They’re clamouring for change. They’re clamouring for a new beginning because they say they are overworked, underpaid and under-resourced. And the nurses here at Northern Regional Hospital joined their colleagues nationwide clamouring for better conditions. Nurse Iesha Espejo stood with her coworkers outside the NRH entrance.
Iesha Espejo, Licensed Practical Nurse, Northern Regional Hospital: “We’re here standing for fairness. We want what is right to us, to the health system. We are here because many times we are frustrated with the lack of resources. We are frustrated with what has been going on with change of management with the Government and especially more so now they have really touched the peak of our salaries. With everything else that has been happening for these past years, I think now enough is enough.”
Dale McDougall, Love FM News: But more than just better pay, Nurse Espejo says that the health system is on the verge of collapse simply because basic supplies at the north’s most important health facility are in short supply.
Iesha Espejo, Licensed Practical Nurse, Northern Regional Hospital: “We lack a lot of medication. Many times we lack even the nurse to patient ratio meaning that we are short of staff. The basic necessities would be sometimes we don’t have tape. We don’t have tubes to collect blood samples. Medications: we don’t have antibiotics. We don’t have painkillers, as simple as Tylenol for a spell we did not have. We work with what we have even to the point that we didn’t even have gauze and gauze is our day to day supply that we need to use on our patients and many times we have to send them out to buy stuff.”
Dale McDougall, Love FM News: And because there is a shortage of basics like gauze the nurses feel that the bare minimum is simply not enough to give their patients adequate care.
Iesha Espejo, Licensed Practical Nurse, Northern Regional Hospital: “It is very frustrating. In our career, we are in here to help others. We are here to help the sick. They come to us for help and sometimes it is hard on us not knowing there’s only so much we can do with what we have. Sometimes we have so much patients that we need to deal with and there’s only one nurse to those patients. It slows us down in order to give the best services to our patients, meaning time management, having to care for each one of them independently to make sure that they’re in good hands, which most of the time they are
Dale McDougall, Love FM News: Espejo says that the frontline workers are and will remain committed to Belize but losing salary at such a critical time undercuts their ability to do the best possible job.
Iesha Espejo, Licensed Practical Nurse, Northern Regional Hospital: “We work more hours than we should. We are supposed to be completing between 40 to 45 hours and there’s more that we complete at the end of the month. This end of the month we really got a damper on us because there was a short hour deduction whereby we really don’t understand where that is coming from if we have met the hours that we needed to complete at the end of the month. Many got deductions over 500 plus dollars not including tax, social security, and other stuff that you need to pay for. People depend on their money especially at the end of the month. People have loans to pay, utilities to pay for, groceries to get for their families and not even that. We are getting none. It feels like we’re honestly working for free.”
Dale McDougall, Love FM News: The nurses moved their demonstration from in front of the hospital to various parts of Sugar City, demanding a change and demanding that change now. Dale McDougall, Love News.”