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May 15, 2015

Nurses Host Annual Conference

Nurses from across the country gathered in the city for the culmination of Nurses Week at their annual nurses’ conference. While the health system is one that is often under public scrutiny because of the critical service it provides, today was an opportunity for the nurses to discuss where they fit in, in the larger picture and how they can contribute to a more effective system through the services they provide. Andrea Polanco stopped in at the conference today:


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Annual Nurses Conference is an opportunity for nurses to discuss the services they provide and how to turn challenges into opportunities. Understaffed hospitals continue to be one of the primary challenges, and nurses have been going around those challenges by filling crucial gaps.


Augustina Elijio, Deputy Director, Health Services

Augustina Elijio

“For many years this country has been without psychiatrist; psychiatric nurse practitioners have been cutting costs in health care, in that nurses are out there in the communities, in every health district. There are out there assessing patients doing the mental health assessment, diagnosing and treating. It is far less than having psychiatrist or far less than what the country can afford. We could also talk about the certified registered nurse anesthetist; these are the nurse that puts you to sleep in the operating theater. There is a shortage of anesthesiologist in this country. So, we have nurses there doing that type of work again that’s cutting costs. So, nurses are on the cutting edge when it comes to quality care and being effective in cost and we drive nurses to look at that.”


But does cutting costs always mean being effective or does it sacrifice the quality of service?


Darrell Spencer

Darrell Spencer, Nurse Anesthetist, Southern Regional

“At the end of the day, yes. But to explain is, and I will and I have pledged for the rest of my career to give a high standard of care. Ultimately, if I am put to take care of seven patients in contrast to the nurse who supposed to go up to three patients. The proper ratio of nurse to patients should be one to three at most, so we would expect that I cannot, physically, humanly, in any time or fashion give high quality care, that  which I would have given to three patients, given to seven or eight. So, that is one of the big issues.”


And for that reason, there is a push to create opportunities for more qualified nurses:


Amanda Montejo, Outgoing President, Nurses Association of Belize

Amanda Montejo

“The Ministry assists us in providing certain resources and continued education by providing scholarships for nurses. For example they had an going program with the nurse anesthetist and theater nurses like the scrub program and they are trying right now to launch the program for mid-wifery and psychiatric nurse practitioners.”


Undoubtedly, there’s a lot to be done, including cleaner, safe working environments:


Darrell Spencer

“It needs improving. It definitely needs improving. We do what we can do, Most often, the nurse will take a little bowl, or get the mop, take broom and clean down an area. But the place of work is deteriorating; hence a nurse cannot be expected to repair the tile, to paint the walls, so the conditions- with the money that the government is spending on health, if it was spent wisely- should have been better when it comes to the place of work, the cleanliness, the upkeep of the buildings, the infrastructure of that which the nurse has to work.”


Despite plagued by challenges and budgetary constraints, there are some things to celebrate:


Augustina Elijio

“Our health care system has developed. But all in all, health care is evolving globally, things are changing. And as things change globally, things do change here in Belize. We are abreast in terms of training. We are abreast in terms of our outputs; technology. If you have to look at our documentation system in place, we do have, if you compare us to Latin America and Caribbean, we do have a very adequate Belize Health Information System, and nurses do work that information system.”


Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Nurses Host Annual Conference”

  1. MACAL RIVERA says:

    Nursing is abreast in terms of training? What a sick joke, Mrs Elijio, your nurses at the San Ignacio hospital are the worse TECHNOLOGY NURSES, the nursing care in this hospital has spiral down to the dogs. There are just a few Nurses that makes a difference, but the majority of Nurses at the San Ignacio hospital feel like they cannot be touch because they have strong ties to PSU, Politicians, ect ect, so they have to compassion for patients, some people are left to suffer until death comes.
    Please we are begging transfer some of these nurses out and bring in nurses that will care for patients, we the people of San Ignacio do not want nurses with a RABID DOG ATTITUDE.

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