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Jun 11, 2021

Filipino Nurses Resigning From KHMH to Work Outside of Belize

As many as thirty-five nurses, the majority of whom are from the Republic of the Philippines, have resigned from the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.  They are either returning to their home country after years of service to Belize or pursuing a career in healthcare elsewhere.  Over the past week, six nurses have resigned from the COVID Unit and several others have served notice that they are leaving within the next two months.  Among them is Robert Reyes.  Since moving to Belize several years ago, Nurse Reyes has faced several challenges, including a steep increase in the cost of a work permit and being told to take an exam even in the midst of Covid-19.


Robert Reyes, Former Nurse, KHMH

“First is the work permit, okay.  We have to pay for it from our own pockets.  Coming here from the Philippines to Belize is kind of not easy because we pay all the airline tickets from our pockets, the government doesn’t even give us any housing or even allowance for those things.  We pay for all those things from our own money and then the increasing payment for the work permit, this is the second time that they are trying to increase the work permit because before they were trying to increase it to two thousand [dollars].  So a group of Filipino nurses went to Belmopan to talk to Pablo Marin to tackle this issue.  Okay, they [scrapped] that and they told us just to pay one thousand [dollars].  We, Filipinos alone fixed the issue without the help of our institution and this is the second time, in the middle of the pandemic, they are asking us to pay three thousand [dollars] which is really a lot for us.  We pay everything from our own pocket, from extension of visa, extension of work permit before was one hundred [dollars], now it increased to two hundred [dollars]. I’ve already gotten my contract, okay, because I’ve already gotten a job offer outside of Belize.  I already have a job offer which the government, they offered us at least a housing allowance.  They offered us a free air ticket and then they give us more benefits, especially in terms of health, in terms of assurance that we are looking for, you know, because we want a stable life, we want stability because the thing is we are foreign workers because we are looking for a better future for us and for our families.”


Isani Cayetano

“You are leaving at a time where we’re battling a pandemic and perhaps there is the notion that there will be a shortage of nurses left in the wake of your departure.  Do you have any concerns or consideration as to the time that you choose to leave?”


Robert Reyes

Robert Reyes

“Actually, we do understand the pandemic.  We do understand that there are happenings right now, but the thing is, imagine, in the middle of a pandemic they ask to increase the work permit and then in the middle of the pandemic they ask us to take an exam.  If we don’t take it we are going to be downgraded, so this is the only thing and we work hard.  In the middle of a pandemic, I work in an isolation area.  I work in the COVID Isolation [Unit] for the entire COVID pandemic.  So I guess now that the pandemic is slowing down, it’s time for us to get an opportunity for ourselves.”

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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