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Commentary: The brain drain of the Caribbean trained nurses
Published on January 23, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Derrick Miller

Our quiet need: The role of a nurse is equally important as a good doctor, education, clean criminal record, and a productive safe community.

These caretakers and medicine givers are eyes and ears of doctors, from preparing a clean bed to escorting sick and helpless patients, even ones with mental health issues, AIDS to zika, while providing comfort to families during times of need.

derrick_miller.jpg
Derrick Miller holds a BS degree in economics and finance, an MBA in global management and a MS in criminal justice leadership and management. He has worked in the US public safety and criminal justice field for over 14 years. He can be contacted at http://www.crijc.org/
During an emergency hospital stay at a medical center, their presence often allows families to head back to work, or simply get an extra night off from staying overnight on a hard chair.

Despite historians’ early account that they were taught Christian values to become good servants, they serve everyone regardless of religious, political, or social ideology or values.

Today they are one of society’s inseparable communities, hidden treasures from wars to human or natural disasters for centuries.

This function cannot be quantified, but certainly a nation’s health, medical system, trust and upward mobility will diminish when they migrate that talent.

Sadly, especially in the poor and developing countries, and some of the dominant Caribbean countries such as, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Guyana, where prolonged economic symptoms have crippled major public medical facilities for decades.

Many reports have voiced concerns over the lack of funds, critical new technology, supplies, and other equipment to save lives.

These facilities jeopardize both nurses and patients’ lives by putting them at a higher risk of an infectious disease.

It also seems that the more nurses speak out they are becoming more powerless under strenuous employment conditions from what appears to be silence of accountability.

Over the next 25-50 years, the aging population will increase over 100 percent in both in hospitals and home based care according to health care professionals and scholars. This field will become more critical to meet the demands.

A troubled-ward: One in 25 patients is infected in a medical center according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Pneumonia is one of the common issues found in surgical sites, the studies have shown.

I have also lost few friends who have had other health issues and died shortly after they contracted pneumonia and other infectious bacteria while being hospitalized.

However, this migration is not about pneumonia.

As many scholars have noted, such as Harvard sociology professor Orlando Patterson, “Jamaica for decades has developed a good public health system that has been successful against malaria, tuberculosis and various gastrointestinal diseases.”

Later reports have shown that the death rate of children has fallen according to the World Bank in the region from birth to age two per 1000.

However, I believe the region still lacks critical data to systematically monitor home birthed babies, medical issues, and others who self-medicated from cultural beliefs, and other socio-economic and geographic factors that still affect access to health care.

Sure, the region has come a long way; however, it seems that the health system has taken a step back, especially in the publicly operated centers.

Recently, as reported in Jamaica, about 18 babies died from klebsiella and serratia, or pseudomonas that have been on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These bacteria and other poor health issues are not new. Today, countless family plots and cemeteries along these shores are still searching for an answer:

Many first line responders remain vulnerable and worried that inadequate supplies and lack of critical tools continue to place them at higher risk of becoming infected.

It seems that customer service continues to decline, and access to a doctor is dictated on one’s ability to pay upfront without a diagnosis.

Without the media, those babies would have been just another premature death.

This epidemic has forced health officials to admit publicly that something is wrong.

Government leadership seems to have a “pre-existing condition” that is defensive to address poor and unhealthy medical operations.

Telling people not to panic is not a solution.

Where is the independent oversight?

If these health ministers have the public’s interests, they must speak up for funding, and refrain from the politics and be on the side of supporting all, especially the disadvantaged.

What if these leaders’ own families were to be admitted to these poor facilities, or depending on some form of social welfare?

These medical clouds stretch beyond a broken window at a ward, but a broader issue on helping people find jobs, fighting crime and becoming part of a solution.

The next flight: Nursing careers will command excellent salaries, such as one in math, finance, science, or a career in petroleum, especially one in home care, according to several business reports.

Today, these nurses are leaving not because of gender equality, crime or the lack of education; several have enormous student loans.

These flights are not an abandonment of their nationality; it is an incremental move for economic opportunities.

Countries such as Bermuda, Cayman, US, UK, Canada and many other developed nations are poised to gain from this flight.

Going back to school to become a nurse, one would hope their service would upgrade the local economy’s living standards, but now it seems like a one-way ticket out.

These well sought after visas serve rural areas in the US, Canada, and other places, even if the salaries are lower than the countries’ national average. However, it will be better than the local system they are leaving.

Additionally, the constant fear of losing their jobs, combined with helplessness of disproportionately seeing poor people waiting on benches for days after an emergency to be admitted, then to be told to return due to lack bed space, or because of the inability to pay upfront.

These nurses’ good intention and values sometimes collide with their moral compass, where life and death could be added off-the records payments to keep a patient alive in making sure that certain basic needs are met while hospitalized.

Medical insecurities seriously undermine ethics in medicine and the integration between the relations with their patients.

Others being over worked, and underpaid, with little support system to alleviate emotional scars.

Vacations are being missed from the fear of losing employment, and that could reset current salary after years of solid service.

“Also, I am not naïve of patients being passed through system to incur unnecessary bills because of one’s ability to pay.”

These migrations also help consultants who reap benefits from the trade as if they are farm workers in the agricultural fields.

Decision-making seems to only satisfy the media’s concern while the ability to develop a road map for upward mobility and to stymie these migrations, and build trust in the health centers remains an uphill syndrome.

Beneath these outfits, there is a mom, daughter, sister, son, brother and a father.

Sure, some would love to stay and others have along these warm and beautiful shores and not bracing brutal winters?

Reducing the boarding pass: There are excellent doctors in the region, but most can only be found in private facilities.

Patriotism is not only the love of country when they shine, but making sure that needs are met off camera.

The region has to develop incentives for others to come back who have left to study medicine in countries like Germany, Cuba, the US, and other places.

I hope leaders will take some time to visit other medical centers globally and learn something such as in when they visit a major sporting events like the 2016 Olympics in Brazil as patriots.

Many of these leaders have access to the best healthcare. They often travel abroad to seek treatment, while avoiding the same centers being dominated by insects from the lack of resources.

The manipulation of the less informed by candidates for higher office, based on likes on Facebook, or because one stop by a local shop the night before an election, to play a few dominoes; others hand out a few dollars, sacrifice a pig or a goat, then sell a false sense of community only to be missing until the next election cycle has to stop.

The less fortunate person has to become as important as the next election, carnival, or world sporting event.

Asking for accountability is not attacking the medical industry or its leaders. It is instrumental for a healthier society, but more needs to be done for nurses.

While millions are being spent into selling relaxation on beautiful beaches, when a local person who serves these visitors becomes sick, hopefully, they can return to work from a good healthcare without discrimination from being sick.

Maybe that disgruntled nurse on the ward is not irritated from an overnight long shift, or a patient’s vomit, but a cry for better working condition and wages.

Selling the argument of free health care at these public medical facilities should not be a place where one goes to die.

The economic strength of a nation is dependent on how healthy that society is.
 
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