‘Quick fixes not enough’

DENBIGH, Clarendon — Unimpressed by a raft of suggestions to beef up security at May Pen Hospital after a nurse was viciously bludgeoned in the head, one of her colleagues has dismissed the measures as ineffective, a mere Band Aid placed over an open wound. Others have questioned the effectiveness of guards placed at two security posts through which the nurse’s attacker chased her before repeatedly beating her in the head with a rock.

“We have been plagued by every type of abuse — physically, verbally psychologically — down here,” one nurse, who asked not to be identified by name, told the Jamaica Observer on Monday afternoon. “These quick fixes are not enough!”

She wants permanent solutions put in place to ensure no one else endures the ordeal that left her colleague hospitalised with a fractured skull.

In a statement Monday afternoon Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA), which has oversight for May Pen Hospital, outlined changes that will be immediately implemented. These include security officers accompanying staff members working the night shift to their vehicles or point of pickup when they are leaving the compound. There will also be increased patrols by cops assigned to the police post at the hospital, as well as increased mobile patrols of the hospital compound by the Clarendon police. In addition, SRHA will be providing counselling to the injured nurse, her family, as well as other staff members. The release did not indicate if the proposed changes would be permanent or merely a short-term fix.

The attack on the nurse came about 11:00 pm Sunday after she completed a 16-hour shift. She approached the hospital gates to get a taxi and was chased by a man who is believed to be mentally ill.

Her colleagues are baffled that no guards came to her aid.

“It was an elderly man who came to the assistance of the nurse, and he was attacked as well. He is now admitted in the A&E while the nurse is badly beaten. Her skull has been fractured and she is now hospitalised,” said one nurse who, along with her peers, briefly stayed off the job on Monday in protest.

After a meeting with management they went back to work, though their concerns remain.

Some of their fears are shared by Councillor Joel Williams (Denbigh Division, JLP) in whose division May Pen Hospital is located.

“We happen to know that there are several issues happening in and around the compound and the security has failed to cauterise these incidences and to deal with them in a very effective way, and I have expressed that quietly. I have driven in here at nights and the security [guards] are asleep,” he told the Observer.

He questioned the competence of the guards who were on duty at the time of the attack.

“For that to have happened last night, I’m not saying you are trained for what you saw happening but at least you could have intervened. I heard the man had the nurse on the ground, beating her on the head with a stone, and for you to stay in your post without reacting is just inhumane,” said a visibly peeved Williams during a visit to the hospital on Monday.

According to the councillor, the man accused of the attack on the nurse has been wreaking havoc in Bucknor, and the police transported him to the hospital.

“Several houses were damaged in that area and this has been occurring over time with him. I’m sorry the way the police handled the matter too; they should have sought help for him instead of just taking him and leaving him here. I pray to God we don’t lose the nurse because I heard she is in serious condition. I am hoping this is an eye-opener and something like this will not happen again,” Williams told the Observer.

He said he has been engaged in discussions to identify solutions for the way forward.

“I would like to see a number of changes here and I have had discussions with a number of persons, including the CEO, the SMO [senior medical officer], and others. Some will take a little time but the first thing I would like to see corrected is the matter to do with the security,” the councillor said.