Retention of nurses on agenda of new NAJ president
ROSE HALL, St James — The ongoing retention of nurses tops the list of priorities new president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) Dawn-Marie Richards will focus on during her tenure.
The senior public health nurse at the St Mary Health Department in the North-East Regional Health Authority was installed as the 36th president of the 78-year-old organisation last Saturday night.
Her installation came during the NAJ’s 54th Island Conference held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James.
Though she was unable to provide the number of nurses who have migrated since the start of the year, she pointed out that it is not always about the money.
“There are other things that cause persons to migrate. We will just have to try our best to retain persons and ensure that we have adequate numbers trained that we will always have persons here to care for the Jamaican population,” the NAJ head told journalists after the conference.
Richards, who took over the helm of the organisation from Patsy Edwards Henry, provided insight into other areas that she intends to make her focus.
“We will continue the dialogue with the Government in relation to our outstanding additional contract items that have not yet been finalised — mainly our overtime policy, travelling, subsistence, shift premium, uniform allowance, and increments/seniority payments,” she said.
“We will also seek to engage the Government on new strategies that will be relevant to the socio-economic welfare of membership to include exploring the expansion of the middle management cadre of the nursing personnel,” added Richards.
She also commented on her members’ concerns about safety within the workplace.
“Workplace safety has become an issue for us but, as I say, we are engaging the Government and the regional health authorities to help us to keep safe in the times to come,” Richards stated.
Two weeks ago, nurses at the May Pen Hospital in Clarendon protested against the physical assault of one of their colleagues by a mentally ill man. The traumatised nurse was reportedly hit on the head with a stone and had to seek medical attention.
Also on Richards’ list of issues to be addressed is an effort to ensure that visibility of the association remains high as it educates the public about nurses and nursing. In addition, the association is now collaborating with various non-governmental organisations to promote the mission of health-care delivery and advocacy locally, regionally, and internationally.
The NAJ president said the association will continue its regional tours with the aim of engaging members, noting that nurses’ concerns and ideas are important to the future of the profession and to the NAJ.
With nurses accounting for the largest chunk of the health-care delivery network, Richards made it clear that they must be actively involved in discussions and decisions related to primary and secondary health-care reform.
She is also encouraging her colleagues to get involved in discussions on national issues, such as the revision of the constitution of Jamaica.
“Read the articles that are published on this topic. Attend and participate in town hall meetings. Be in the know, because these activities have an impact on all of us. Let us remind persons that we are not just nurses doing nursing, but we are part of a larger society,” she implored.