BVI News

Train more locals in health services; hospital short-staffed

CEO of the BVI Health Services Authority, Paula Chester-Cumberbatch

Calls are being made from within the health sector for government to get more locals trained in health services.

The calls are being made because of a staff shortage that is badly affecting the state-owned Peebles Hospital.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the hospital, Paula Chester-Cumberbatch explained that the medical facility is even having trouble recruiting health professionals from other countries.

“We do need a sort of push where the H Lavity Stout Community College is concerned for the training of allied health staff, etcetera,” she said at a recovery plan public consultation with local health professionals yesterday.

The CEO went on to describe the staff shortage as a major issue; adding that some departments at the hospital are manned by one person.

“It is vital that something is done. There should be coordination in terms of our education sector [with the health sector].”

“The health services are personnel-driven and unfortunately, we had a few resignations post the hurricanes, and given the challenge for us to attract and retain [new staff]; losing one person is devastating,” Chester-Cumberbatch said.

Director of Nursing at the hospital, Gretchen Hodge-Penn also decried the staffing issue.

Director of Nursing, Gretchen Hodge-Penn

She said the hospital has always had trouble recruiting nurses. Hodge-Penn said another notable factor that contributes to the problem is the considerably long time it takes to import nurses from other countries.

“Since Irma, it’s become even worse. Since Irma, some have declined [to work in the BVI] because of the fact that the cost of living, as they compare it, is not going to make it. We don’t have residences to provide for them so why should they leave their country to come to ours?”

In responding to the concerns, Chairman of the Disaster Recovery Coordination Committee, Brodrick Penn pledged to look into the issue.

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  1. Watcher says:

    I put in to work with you all since 2015 but y’all never called me back, now y’all here bawling for people strups!

  2. Right says:

    That’s too hard. It’s easier to get a trade license and a contract.

  3. E.Leonard says:

    In the mid 60s, The VI/BVI started its transition from a subsistence agricultural economy to a service-based economy. Today, tourism and financial services are the twin pillars of the economy. The shift propelled the BVI into having one of highest standard of living and quality of life in the region and beyond. Its per capita income is an impressive $41K. The changed economy created the opportunity for many new jobs and new job skills.

    However, the BVI small population could not meet the growing demand for labour, creating a labour shortage with the demand requiring import of skilled and non-skilled labour. 50+ years later, the BVI is still struggling to fill its labour demand from qualified local labour pool. It still depends heavily on imported labour, including nursing.

    Nursing, like teaching, is a labour of love and core competency and skill set requirement in any locale, in any country. Both nurses and teachers have to be recruited from overseas. The majority of teachers and nurses can and should be filled from local talent pool. Teachers and nurses are in demand and developed and developing countries compete for them. To sustain the demand, the BVI have to compete fiercely with other locales for nurses.

    Moreover, certified nurses can earned more outside of the BVI so to keep local nurses and recruit nurses from outside the BVI compensation packages, working conditions, improve job enrichment and enlargement, mutual respect and appreciation……….etc must be markedly improved. Nonetheless, these are not the only factors will recruit and retain nurses.

    Another factor is location. This may be a shock but the BVI is a remote location, lacking many of the amenities available in other locations, ie, malls, entertainment, museums, shopping, readily available transportation , housing …….etc. Recruiting entails more than the employee; the whole family is recruited. What is next?

    Clearly, there is dearth of trained and qualified local personnel available to fill this critical skill set. To change this, HLSCC need to develop and rollout an aggressive nursing programme, improve compensation to attract and retain local nurses, fund training for nurses, provide signing bonuses, reward and recognize outstanding performance, improve working conditions, promote personal and professional growth, show nurses some love for their sacrifices………..etc.

    Furthermore, to provide high quality medical services, require adequate funding, strict accountability and responsibility for the funding, and specific deliverables and outcomes. If residents desire high quality, affordable, accessible and available medical care, it must be willing to fund it. True, it must require and demand accountability and responsibllity.

    • Tallfat says:

      Write a column please.

      • E.Leonard says:

        @Tallfat, I have no expertise in the medical field and will therefore have no credibility in writing about medical issues. Plus I can barely complete a simple sentence to make subject and verb agree. Other bloggers are more qualified than me to write an article on medical issues. For example, Reply appears to have some experience in the medical field. That is an assumption and we know what assume means (ass-u-me). Nevertheless, this blog is a layperson opinion on the nursing shortage, shortage of local nurses and a few suggestions on how the nursing shortage gap may be lowered. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Disinterested says:

      “This may be a shock but the BVI is a remote location, lacking many of the amenities available in other locations, ie, malls, entertainment, museums, shopping, readily available transportation , housing …….etc.” You presenting the BVI as some distant and far away place in the middle of no where, ie, Timbuktu. This may not help the recruiting effort; the BVI is a tropical paradise only a few hours in the air from Miami, USA. Explain yourself. Lol.

      “Recruiting entails more than the employee; the whole family is recruited.” This is deep but true.

      • Watcher says:

        Its the year long wait for a work permit, the cost of them, the annual attendance at Stalag Labour department to be treated like dirt , the stupid immigration rules, and reading the attitude of locals to “ non belongers” that puts people off.

        For my part having beaches in place of shopping malls is not a problem.

        • Too true says:

          Watcher you are correct – add to that the often arduous task of trying to get your huge rental deposit back from an unscrupulous landlord if you choose to move and it does put people off. I love the BVI and its people but too many are dishonest and unfortunately the Government appears to lead in this area….

  4. Maria says:

    Go to all the secondary schools and talk to the students about the importance of going into the health service. It can be any area of their choice, nursing, Doctor, radiologist , technicians, therapist or any area left it. Let them know the subject areas needed and maybe a pelimary class can start at the college. Keep close to those who show an interest and encourage them. That should be air marked as a priority for scholarships.

    • Tallfat says:

      Great idea similar to how the Finance services was being pushed almost as a requirement. Oh but it’s easier said than done still. It’s one of the service area that people snubb bcuz the money is not huge and to get the big $$$$$ takes years of study. Smh

      • @Maria says:

        Truth is that happens everytime High school have a career day. Fact remains that their are alot of locals in the healthcare industry. But this same CEO and others within the organization are the ones who purposely frustrate them into leaving. Some people really go into the field because they want to help….and if your help is being refused and causing burn out less than 2 yrs into ur service to ur country then u cant blame them for leaving.

        The other side is when locals not only in the healthcare field speak out about their treatment from the less qualified managers put over them the same media and bloggers quick to say BVI people behave with a sense of entitilement….we cant win them all

  5. TurtleDove says:

    This is an easy problem to solve if the Government takes it seriously.

    Find out what our needs are for ancillary staff and contract with a college in the US, UK or other Caribbean Island. I say this because developing our own training here will be costly because of our size and all the different ancillary health care professionals. This just does not seem prudent to me. We are talking about more than nurses. Labs, XRay, EMT’ Medical Records……etc

    Then select students with the aptitude for the desired positions and send them for training. With the understanding they must come back and work for at least 5 years or they have to pay the money back.(come up with a system to hold them or their parents accountable)

    Much of the ancillary healthcare training is two years or less and not very expensive. Let the hospital be involved with the selection as well as deciding how many needs to be trained so there is a continuous supply of trained staff.

    Because of where we live and the size of our population we need to be creative and prudent.

  6. Interested says:

    There are trained BVI nurses in the US who have decided not to return to the territory.Some did come home and were treated disgracefully ,so they left…we are in a jam and unable to recruit those from preferred locations,so what are we now going to do ?

  7. ummm says:

    Been needing extra staff for 20 years now.. The locals get their free (til graduation) education from the government and move to the USA, Canada, UK and etc. They don’t even pay back the loaned money from the scholarships due to no consequences being enforced. Reap what you sow.

    • @ummm says:

      You sound like a jealous expat… yes alot of us got free education….the bonds that we signed with said government gave them a certain time frame to employ post graduation upon return… much of us applied and never even got a thank you for your application or was told no job availability? Yes there are many who have never returned or attempted to return but no credit or respect is ever given to those who came and tried and are still here working very hard

  8. B Savage says:

    Anytime I read about BRODERICK having to deal with issues involving sensitivity and humanity I LAUGH!!!

  9. 8th District Gyal says:

    Relative of mine graduated with his RN from neighboring USVI. Encouraged him to come back home which he applied and never got called. He is now living there and starting salary of $60k. Another family member lives in USA and makes over $90k. The salary for an RN in BVIHSA is not competitive and one of the reasons why recruitment is difficult.

  10. I FROM HERE says:

    They want to pay qualified locals pennies!

    In the US, a RA Nurse makes over $100,000. On Tola they make $40,000.

  11. Watcher says:

    To reasons and hummm I am qualified for your information, I called several times and emailed, and was told by the human resources person she was on vacation so only one person can deal with that? they for who they for down there!

  12. Well Sah says:

    Go work with them and you’ll see the reason why everybody resigning from them. Most of the good workers left.

  13. Oh Yes says:

    Managers in charge are narrowed-minded.

  14. hers says:

    the locals too pig headed what you expect then to learn?? they come to work late an leave early.
    so what work can they do??

  15. Big says:

    To those complaining about low pay, remember that it the tax payers of this country (low paid employees to) have allowed some of you to be making big bucks in other countries. How do you expect changes and improvement when you spend your time building another and bashing the one that got you there.

    We pay one of the lowest taxes but expect great returns. We are exempt from paying taxes on the first $10,000.00 dollars, not even the great America has this. If one did research, you would we got more than what half of the tax payers got in America.

    I can recall our former education minister, Hon. Andrew Fahie put forward the idea of a medical school for the BVI. If my memory serves me right he was ridicule for this and still being call out on it. The current minister for education Hon. Myron Walwyn claim to have rewritten this proposal for less but we have yet to see the results.

    • Watcher says:

      In the UK you dont pay any tax on the first $15,000 you earn and that is rising to close to $20,000 so the BVI is not unique or even leading in that regard.

  16. BitterPill says:

    It’s all very well saying “Let’s train more locals for the health services.” But first of all, how many locals want to work in the health industry and second, where are they going to be trained? In the BVI? At HLSCC? Give me a break.

  17. Chupzzz says:

    I came here to say something that i see has already been said, but I feel so strongly about it I’ll say it anyway. PAY the workers you already have and you will see greater retention. Ppl resign from BVIHSA and y’all don’t even give them incentives to stay. You just let them go. Get rid of staff and programs that are redundant so that you can PAY the staff you really need. BOTTOM LINE. I’m SICK of y’all going public crying out for help when there are ppl internally BEGGING for change and nothing is changing.

  18. The real Boo says:

    The problem is management cannot manage themselves out of a box and politicians want jobs for their constituents and largesse for their supporters. They have sufficient resources but can’t manage them appropriately and the politicians keep interfering in the process. 700 staff for around 50 beds…really? The HSA is pregnant with administrative and non clinical staff.

    What is going on here? Is it poor management or political pressure to hire folks/give out cushy contracts? Both actually. Meanwhile each takes a pissing contest in public and the problem remains unsolved.

  19. Watcher says:

    Another triumph for the crazy labour laws and the economy screwing labour department.

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