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Nurses from Cuba and Ghana have been described as a tremendous asset to Barbados in its ongoing battle against COVID-19.
Despite the language barrier for some of the Cuban healthcare workers, executive chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland, said the foreign nurses filled critical gaps in the several isolation centres and the hospital.
“We would not have been able to manage and sustain this response without that inflow of Cuban nurses and then a further team of doctors and lab technicians that were deployed to Best-Dos Santos Lab,” the senior official told .
Of the Ghanaian nurses, Bynoe-Sutherland noted: “As soon as Ghana was able to release them to us, they played a significant role because we are now stretching our staff across all these isolation centres, and so Ghanaians really held the fort. Some of them had specialist skills and were able to support the work of the Infectious Disease and Prevention Department.”
She added: “I am appreciative of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health [Janet Phillips]. When I felt we were stretching our staff too thin; when we were asked to set up isolation centres at Savannah, then Sunbay, and the Beach Village, I reached out to the Permanent Secretary to say ‘we just don’t have the numbers’. She was able to give us a cohort of the Ghanaian nurses who were at the Geriatric Hospital.
“They have integrated very well. We did a special video for them for Ghana’s independence celebration, expressing our sincere appreciation to the President and the Minister of Health for allowing that cohort of nurses to join us in the middle of their wave of the pandemic.”
Last July, 95 nurses from the Republic of Ghana in West Africa arrived in Barbados on a two-year assignment, aimed at bolstering the nursing complement in Barbados’ public health sector.
The nurses were attached to the QEH, the Geriatric Hospital and polyclinics across the island. In January, a contingent of 15 Cuban doctors and laboratory specialists who had been requested from the Government of Cuba by the Government of Barbados arrived on the island to assist with the backlog of COVID testing and to assist in caring for a rising number of COVID-19 infected persons. They joined several Cuban nurses who were already here assisting in the COVID-19 fight.