Nurses and doctors associations react to curfew

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Nurses and doctors associations react to curfew

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
Senior staff reporter
hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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THE islandwide curfew imposed by the Government as a measure to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) might impact transportation of the island's nurses.

The night-time curfew, which will begin tomorrow and continue through Wednesday, April 8 from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am daily, will restrict all movement, including that of public transportation. Exceptions will include essential services and those outlined in the Gazette which will include but will not be limited to doctors, nurses and business process outsourcing workers.

The curfew will be reviewed after seven days to determine its impact and whether it is to be extended.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer following Prime Minister Andrew Holness's announcement of the curfew at a virtual post-Cabinet press briefing last night, Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) President Carmen Johnson, said while in theory the curfew would not impede the movement of nurses, some might have problems with public transportation.

“Essential services are permitted to leave. They (nurses) just need to do so with their IDs,” Johnson said. “The only problem is having the public transportation system available to take those individuals who the RHAs (regional health authorities) presently do not assist to get to work.”

In terms of the impact on the workload of nurses, Johnson said if what the NAJ foresees as a challenge with transportation becomes reality, then a problem may arise.

“If persons are not able to get to work it simply means that the workload for those who are able to get to work is going to be increased,” she reasoned.

Furthermore, Johnson said the NAJ will petition the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the RHAs today to put measures in place for the transportation of nurses across the island, especially those in rural areas.

Meanwhile, Dr Elon Thompson, president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA), said while his members stand committed and ready to face the COVID-19 crisis, he has not heard anyone raise the issue of transportation.

“What some of the doctors are doing, they are carpooling. The interesting thing is, I have not heard any of the doctors complain about transportation issues. They have made arrangements, or the regions have made arrangements for them. If it is a problem we would have to look at a solution similar to what has been found for the nurses, who we think have a greater issue with that,” Dr Thompson said.

In relation to an increase in workload as a result of these measures, the JMDA president said, “If it does, we have to adjust.”


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