Nurses and other workers at the Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) who care for Covid-19 patients will be paid the promised $1,000 monthly honorarium, the hospital announced yesterday.
On Wednesday, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association, Soria Dupie-Winston told Observer media of the association’s intent to take industrial action because the MSJMC management has reneged on the decision made by the government to pay an honorarium to nurses on the frontlines.
This came after the hospital’s management issued a letter to nurses on Monday informing them they had started processing the payments, and that in order for the nurses to receive the full monthly $1,000 allowance, the criteria mandates that each nurse must work a minimum of four 32-hour shifts while taking care of Covid-19 patients.
It clearly stated that if the employees worked only eight hours, they will be paid $250.
“Now that they are supposed to be getting the $1,000, one nurse is getting two hundred, another getting eight, and another is getting five hundred. This is preposterous. The nurses leave their families every day and go out there and sacrifice to ensure that they take care of these sick patients, and now to be insulted this way,” an irate Dupie-Winston said on Wednesday.
However, in addressing its earlier stated criteria yesterday, the MSJMC release said, “We have since realised the inequities in the process and are taking the necessary steps to address. Moving forward, all nurses working with Covid-19 patients will receive a $1,000 pay incentive. Nurses who have received less than the $1,000 will be paid the shortfall retroactively”.
MSJMC’s Medical Director Dr Albert Duncan added that the management has “always been and continue to be committed to ensuring that our team – nurses and all others – are supported. We are making every effort to be as inclusive as we possibly can.
“This means that other members of our team such as our orderlies and technicians will also be eligible for this pay incentive. They are all shouldering an incredible burden as well as increased risks to their emotional and physical health.”
The pay incentive is for one year commencing March 1, 2020, and all eligible MSJMC employees will be paid $1,000 retroactively for this period, the MSJMC said.
“Delays send the wrong message, and we want to apologise to not just our nurses but our entire team for this. We recognise the urgent need for these funds as well as the length of time it has taken to distribute. We are confident that the employees will begin to receive payment in short time,” Dr Duncan added.