Not for reward
Health professionals say love for job is their motivation
STRACHAN JOHNSON... we don’t do this for any form of recognition

WHILE a number of initiatives, including Healthcare Workers’ Appreciation Month now being observed, are already in place to honour service, commitment and sacrifice, a panel of health professionals have said that financial reward is not a motivator for them.

“I do what I do because I love it, not because I am properly compensated for it,” Associate Clinical Psychologist Keisha Bowla-Hines told journalists at last week’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.

MAYLOR-ARCHAT... giving us the tools and resources to do our jobs more efficiently is what we would all want

“We do what we do because we love what we do,” she added on behalf of her colleagues — Keron Crossman Johnson, environmental health specialist with the Ministry of Health and Wellness; medical technologist Mitchelle Maylor-Archat; Nurse Sophia Francis from National Chest Hospital; Dr Susan Strachan Johnson, acting senior medical officer, Kingston and St Andrew Health Department; and Dr Judith Leiba, director, child and adolescent mental health.

The six health-care professionals were guests at the Monday Exchange where they shared their painful and gripping experiences during the height of the novel coronavirus pandemic in the country.

BOWLA-HINES... I do what I do because I love it, not because I am properly compensated for itPhotos: Naphtali Junior

For Bowla-Hines, who is also co-ordinator, counselling services, Liguanea region of the South East Regional Health Authority, payment would be seeing Jamaica better prepared for the next pandemic or health crisis.

“Moving forward, I want us to recognise that another pandemic is possible — and not just a pandemic but other issues are possible, other disasters are possible, and so how do we right now begin to make ourselves resilient and robust enough that, should it come on our doorstep, we are in a better position to contend with it,” said Bowla-Hinds.

CROSSMAN JOHNSON... in terms of showing appreciation there have been a number of initiatives

Dr Leiba agreed, but placed her focus on the development of child and mental health services.

“If you want to give me a lovely gift, you tell me that you’re going to put some money and investment in my child and adolescent mental health services,” said Dr Leiba who has been serving that sector for at least a decade.

A state-of-the-art lab would make Maylor-Archat happy.

“Giving us the tools and resources to do our jobs more efficiently is what we would all want. So speak about a state-of-the-art lab — I would really and truly like to step into one; that would do more than magic,” Maylor-Archat, the co-ordinator of medical technical services, told the Monday Exchange, adding that it would be good if lab facilities in the western end of the island were able to test samples instead of having to send them to Kingston.

“These are the things we would welcome. We always welcome more pay, of course, but we just want more [resources] so that we can do what we do best,” she said. “We do this because we love it.”

LEIBA... if you want to give me a lovely gift, invest in my child and adolescent mental health services

At the same time, Maylor-Archat, who shared that during the pandemic she and her team were putting in 24-hour shifts, acknowledged that each year their efforts are recognised by the ministry during Medical Laboratory Professionals Week.

Crossman Johnson, too, pointed to public and private sector initiatives designed to reward health workers, and expressed gratitude. However, she said, “What we do is invaluable, and nobody can actually pay us for what we do. But in terms of showing appreciation, there have been a number of initiatives.”

That point was endorsed by Dr Strachan Johnson.

“We don’t do this for any form of recognition,” she said. “You really have to love this job to be still here. Public health is not easy, and so I really cannot think of anything that would reward me.”

BY VERNON DAVIDSON Executive editor — publications davidsonv@jamaicaobserver.com

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