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Nurses in Belmopan Frustrated with Working Condition, Unfair Salary Deductions

In Belmopan, nurses and doctors there walked out early this morning from the Western Regional Hospital. They had posters and placards and were not shy to express their frustration. They say they’ve been tired of being unfairly treated.

Nurse Pascacio, Western Regional Hospital: “We’re not happy. We’re disgruntled. Every month our overtime is being cut. We’re not being paid what we are working for. Nurses work 48 hours, sometimes 60 hours per week. We’re supposed to work 40 hours per week and yet at the end of the month they are claiming that we are owing the Government time. How could we be owing time if we’re working 48 hours almost every week due to shortage of staff? We’re tired of this. We work hard. We want our money. We’re not begging for it. It is what is deserving to us. We have almost 50 to 55 staff members out here this morning so we want to send a message to the Government that we are fed up. We have been patient for quite a long time but now our patience has run out and like I said before, this is not a political protest. This has nothing to do with politics. This has been going on under the U, under the previous administration and it has been going on under the one that left. So it has been going on under both parties and we are tired. We are fed up.”

Fem Cruz, Love FM News: Ma’am tell us about the conditions whenever it rains, it’s like you’re outside. Tell us about the leakage here at the hospital. 

Nurse Pascacio, Western Regional Hospital: “Whenever it rains it leaks through the corridor. In my area, for example in Maternity Ward, it leaks behind Labour & Delivery and we have to put a bucket to catch the water when it’s raining. That is not a safe environment because someone can slip. A patient can slip. A nurse can slip. It can be something detrimental to people.”

Fem Cruz, Love FM News:  So ma’am this goes for the drivers of those vehicles as well too?

Nurse Pascacio, Western Regional Hospital: “Drivers. As you see out here this morning  Bro. Fem, we don’t only have nurses. We have our doctors supporting us, our domestic. We have our ambulance driver. This is affecting everybody, not only nurses because the overtime problem is across the board. The overtime is affecting the domestic. The doctor’s overtime has been cut this month as well. So we’re not only fighting for nurses. We’re fighting for the entire hospital and whatever we’re fighting for at the end of the day will benefit the public.”

Ritchie Wills, Medical Technologist, Western Regional Hospital: “The main reason why we’re out here protesting is to complain about our work environment but at the crux of the matter is our time and how we’re being paid.”

Fem Cruz, Love FM News:  Tell us about the working conditions first. 

Ritchie Wills, Medical Technologist, Western Regional Hospital: “The working conditions are ever increasing. The population of Belmopan is always growing but yet we’re not  getting enough staff to provide the full coverage. Yet we’re also expected to provide 24 hour coverage. That doesn’t seem fair and at the end of the day the people who suffer are the patients.”

Fem Cruz, Love FM News:  Yes and tell us the other side of the story now. 

Ritchie Wills, Medical Technologist, Western Regional Hospital: “At the crux of the matter is our payment and how we are being paid by the Government. If we work 12 hours, they only see 8 hours as regular and 4 hours as overtime and they should be seeing, at least in our view, that the 12 hours that we work is our shift instead of paying us 8 hours and then 4 hours overtime. All that overtime is taxable. Everything goes to tax. You only end up with $100 out of $500 that you make for that one shift and it’s unfair. It’s very very unfair and so, certain people, they’ve lost up to $700 and $800 deducted. Because if you work $206 hours for the month, how will Government come back and say you still owe 40 hours, and tax it and take out because you owe? You understand? That’s too much. That’s literally slavery or illegal.”

Samuel Swasey, Patient Care Assistant, Western Regional Hospital: “What I would like to see happen is that the duties of our staff stay where it’s at and we get paid fairly because I don’t know what is happening because it seems like, we work that 12 hours and still when we have done working that 12 hours, we only, some of us only get paid for 8. That’s what it seems and it doesn’t make sense.”

Fem Cruz, Love FM News:  Okay tell us about the poor working conditions when it comes to needed equipment? 

Samuel Swasey, Patient Care Assistant, Western Regional Hospital: “When it comes to needs, the hospital is in dire need. Some months or some weeks we don’t even have Tylenol. We don’t have Benadryl. We don’t have Infant Benadryl because these things they run out and it’s not provided in time and when it comes to the gloves for the doctors to wear, sometimes we don’t even have the right size. Sometimes a place only has size 8 and size 7 ½. We have doctors who have size 6 hands and size 6 ½ and sometimes we don’t even have the other sizes. And when it comes to pampers, sometimes we have to send people. We have to send family members’ relatives to go to the different stores to buy pampers for their family members. Yes indeed we would encourage them to do that because ‘ey you know what? It’s their family member but still yet we are a healthcare facility, a healthcare provider so we need to provide for our patients what they are in need of.”