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MOH working on SRH, Minister Bernard says

Photo: Monday’s protest at Southern Regional Hospital

by Marco Lopez  

DANGRIGA, Stann Creek District, Thurs. Feb. 23, 2023

On Monday, the services at the referral hospital for the southern region of Belize were handicapped for a short while – as nurses staged an impromptu protest in front of the hospital’s facilities. This morning when we reached out to the Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Kevin Bernard shared that work is being done to address the issues at the hospital, but did not have much of an update to offer.

The numerous issues from the stretched-thin nursing staff seem to have been festering for some months now. This is after a similar protest which took place last year in August. At the time, the Ministry and political representatives for the region met with aggrieved staff, who were given reassurances of improvements and changes.

Those promises have seemingly fallen to the wayside, but Minister Bernard shared today that Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, the Director of Public Health and Wellness, has been in working dialogue with the hospital personnel to address some of the issues.

Some of which, Hon. Bernard understands, are issues that can be addressed internally by the administration on the ground. He shared that Dr. Diaz-Musa, who was in dialogue with the SRH personnel all day on Wednesday, would be the best person to give any information on the way forward for that largest medical facility in southern Belize.

She was unable to speak today and promised to give an update on Friday. The Southern Regional Manager, Mrs. Maria Monima, could not be reached since she was reportedly out sick. After several attempts today we got a chance to speak to an administrator from the Southern Regional Hospital (SRH). While the person chooses to forego a formal interview, it was confirmed that the state of the hospital has normalized following Monday’s walkout.

Some of the issues raised by the nurses could be solved internally, as alluded to by Min. Bernard, the admin said. But the matter of contention for medical staff remains the frozen increments which the hospital has no control over. It was confirmed that the meetings have begun with staff and a general meeting should take place sometime on Friday of this week.

The administrator confirmed that the hospital has been trying to maintain service despite the limitation and has been working regionally and with the ministry to address issues. We were informed that the hospital’s facilities are undergoing retrofitting to improve infrastructure and service delivery at this time.