KINGSTON, Jamaica (Wednesday, February 24, 2021) — The Ministry of Health and Wellness is hiring more public health workers as part of the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The move to bolster the healthcare team, comes as additional bed spaces are being provided by the government, as the country sees as increase in the hospitalisation of COVID-19 patients.
Speaking at yesterday’s COVID-19 Conversations virtual press briefing, portfolio Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, said the hiring process is already under way.
“The expansion of staff will be done over time, but we have asked for that to begin immediately; it has started. We will then make further assessment, taking into consideration any changes in hospitalisations and capacity,” he said.
Dr. Tufton disclosed that each regional health authority (RHA) has been instructed to hire additional staff, based on their needs.
“The hiring of additional staff, for us, is extremely important and comes against the background of shortages, not just because of… the new numbers of COVID [cases], but also because the mass recruitment of public health practitioners, and, in particular, our nurses, by neighbouring countries, has been increasing,” he pointed out.
Dr. Tufton cited the case of the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), which has had a high turnover of nurses.
He said that since the start of the year, the hospital has lost some 42 public health nurses, who have migrated to other jurisdictions.
“We don’t have a policy to restrict; labour is free to move, but you can imagine that it has placed significant additional strain on the hospital, and across the board, generally speaking,” he pointed out.
The Minister urged qualified individuals, who wish to render their services, to contact the RHA.
“I want to encourage at this time, given the challenges that we face, persons who qualify as nurses, specialist nurses, and others who would like to join the public health team, even on a temporary basis, to contact the regional authority or your parish office.
“We have instructed the regions and, by extension, parishes and institutions, to assess their needs and to bring additional capacity on, as needed, as part of dealing with the expanded capacity of infrastructure to deal with this challenge. That includes persons, who may have retired, who still have the energy and the interest. We would like to bring them back on board, at least for a period of time, to deal with the challenges that we face,” he added.