The recent integration of Ghanaian nurses into Barbados’ public healthcare system has boosted its efficiency.
So says the country’s Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, who said one of those improvements would be the extended opening hours at the St John polyclinic.
Speaking at the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) political meeting in the Glebe, St John last night, Bostic said the 95 nurses who arrived from Ghana on July 30, were already working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and polyclinics across the island.
Shortly after arriving in Barbados just over two months ago, nine of those nurses tested positive for COVID-19 while another tested positive for malaria, sparking wild debate about their health status and the protocols put in place to bring them here.
However, Bostic said the nurses had fully recovered and would be an asset in the delivery of public healthcare services.
“I am happy to report that, within the next few weeks, now that we have brought 95 nurses from Ghana here who are now into the public health system working and at the QEH, that we are going to extend the opening hours of the polyclinic at St John from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week in the first instance, before we go the full 24 hours,” Bostic said.
The health minister said full services would be provided at that polyclinic including X-rays, dialysis and an asthma bay.
Additionally, he said, talks with the Transport Board to facilitate better bus routes from St George, St Andrew, St Joseph and the surrounding parishes to ensure persons could access the services being offered at the St John polyclinic were already underway.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY, the QEH’s executive chairman, Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland, confirmed that 46 Ghanaian nurses were now working there.
She said they had been providing their services for several weeks and had been “well-received” by the general public.
“The nurses have completed their orientation and have started working in their various speciality areas across the hospital, and they have been so far well-received,” Bynoe-Sutherland said.
“So far, we have had no complaints [or] negative feedback associated with those nurses.”
She said each nurse from Ghana had been assigned a local nurse to be a preceptor – a Barbadian nurse who would support them in transitioning to the QEH, practising in a new environment and adjusting to a new culture – for two months.
During the political meeting, Bostic also revealed that the polyclinic in St George would soon be renamed.
“I am also happy to say that I took a proposal to Cabinet which Cabinet accepted. The process was started several years ago when polyclinics were renamed after persons who had done well in health. There are a few polyclinics like St Philip and the Glebe, which have not been renamed,” he noted.
“I am happy to announce tonight that Cabinet has agreed and, in very short order, that polyclinic at the Glebe will be called the Freddy Miller Polyclinic in honour of Frederick Miller who represented this constituency in the 1960s, who was a Minister of Health, and who was responsible for the early years of the development of public health care services in Barbados,” Bostic said to much applause.