Some 200 health-care workers have responded to the health and wellness ministry’s Mayday last week for retired and active nurses and doctors to participate in “sessional service” in public health facilities as COVID-19 infections and deaths soared across the country.
The ad, which quickly circulated on social and mainstream media last Tuesday evening, urged qualified individuals to contact the ministry, stated: “With the surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisation, the health system in Jamaica needs your support as we work our way through this pandemic.”
The distress call came after the ministry reported on Monday, August 23 that 589 people were hospitalised with COVID-19, 90 of which were said to be severely ill, 59 critically ill, and 179 moderately ill. That same day, Jamaica recorded 752 new COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths, bringing the then infection total to 63,464, and virus death toll to 1,417 since the first case was reported in the island last year March.
Speaking with the Jamaica Observer about the initiative last week, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Tufton said the aim was not just to engage retired or active nurses and doctors.
“We are looking at some recently graduated nurses and even looking at some advanced nursing students, although that has to be a function of what they are required to do and so on. We are doing as much as possible to find individuals who fit the technical requirements, in particular for the COVID response to deal with the vaccination, because that is the big headache now. There is a general disaffection, sometimes, when sites are not open, but the truth is, it’s a question of the personnel to man the sites,” he told the Observer.
He said the additional manpower would ease the burden on the current cohort of health workers administering the vaccines, many of whom work late into the nights only to return to work the following day.
“It’s hard… they are tired. It is important for the country to understand that the system is stretched. We are appealing for others to come on board and hopefully this can get some additional capacity,” Dr Tufton said then.