By Shermain Bique-Charles
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association (ABNA) Soria Dupie-Winston said while she is pleased that frontline workers have been receiving the $1,000 honorarium promised by the government, she is concerned that her colleagues at Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) have yet to benefit from it.
The government of Antigua and Barbuda decided to pay an honorarium of $1,000 per month to the diligent and self-sacrificing nurses who are on the frontlines, for as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues.
“I am indeed thankful that payment has started as it relates to the promised honorarium to frontline workers, and in particular nurses. I applaud the government for their efforts. But I am concerned about those at MSJMC. I have done my investigations and they have not yet received their money,” she said.
According to the ABNA president, her inquiries have revealed that the nurses have not yet received the promised funds.
“I have inquired and I haven’t gotten any concrete information as to when and if our nurses at MSJMC will get the honorarium promised. I am yet to find out if it’s the government’s responsibility, or if it’s Mount St John’s responsibility to ensure that our frontline workers and healthcare workers are paid,” she said.
Dupie-Winston’s concern comes at a time when residents are struggling financially and the government is apparently cash-strapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is affecting economies globally.
But, she said, some of the nurses have mortgages to pay and families to feed. Coupled with that, they have been working “above and beyond” to ensure that the health of the nation is catered to.
“I have a concern that the nurses at MSJMC who spend countless number of hours with patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 are not receiving the money,” she said.
She is therefore appealing to the management team at MSJMC to make provisions for the nurses to receive the honorarium.
“Those who work on the medical ward, those who work in the ICU, the emergency department, the infectious disease center, who provide continuous care to COVID-19 patients,” she added.
Minister of Health Sir Molwyn Joseph told Observer that the matter will be resolved shortly.
“I will keep at it so that they are paid ASAP [as soon as possible],” he said.