An invitation was sent out to the Director of Nursing Services of the General Hospital inviting nurses to attend the Thanksgiving Day church service which was held at the St. John’s Anglican Church.
As a nurse, I was very elated because for the second year in succession we were given that special privilege to attend. The first time was great, maybe because the Health Minister at that time was a nurse herself.
After all, nurses played a vital role during the dramatic events of October, 19th to the 25th, 1983. Many lives were saved because of the brave and unselfish actions of the nurses. The hospital is located within the vicinity of Fort George and not even the sound of gun shots mixed with the screams and cries from the stampede, could have deterred nurses from performing their duty. When all other persons were running for refuge, including policemen and members of the PRA, we nurses stood our ground.
In recent times the health sector in particular has been going through difficult times. We are presented with the problem of shortage of resources such as medications, bandages, oxygen, reagents, transportation and staffing, just to name a few. Despite all this, the nurses just wanted to use this opportunity to gives thanks for the little they have.
On October, 25th, approximately twelve nurses, all clad in their uniforms, arrived at the above mentioned church and were ushered to empty seats at the church. The unreserved seating arrangements could have only accommodated five nurses, the remaining nurses were asked to sit in a separate area of the church. While the nurses were being ushered to their seats, a police officer in civilian clothes made a remark to the usher, ‘if you put the nurses there, where will the cadets sit?’ I thought the officer’s remark was very rude. Are the cadets more important than the nurses?
To make matters worse, a few minutes later, the nurses were approached by another usher who asked them to vacate the seats. No attempt was made to relocate the nurses. The nurses decided to leave the premises of the church and proceeded towards their transport. It is then that the Health Minister ran towards them begging them to return to the church where she will find seats for them.
For some of the nurses who went back to the church, the Minister was able to find them scattered available seats throughout the congregation. For that I commend the Minister.
However, what is appalling about the entire issue is that seats were available for the school students, the Brownies, the Cadets, the police officers and other groups, all together in their respective groups. However, no consideration was given to the nurses. I came to the conclusion that, nurses are no body until they are needed! I do hope that when IMF austerity measures are taken, that nurses are ignored as well.
The Nursing fraternity is demanding a written apology from the Celebrations Committee and we are hoping that this level of disrespect meted out to us does not happen ever again.