Online Guide to Antigua and Barbuda's Government Information and Services
Principal Nursing Officer refutes claims of Nurses being severed

21st July, 2021


"Clarification of a recent statement reported by the media regarding remuneration for nurses who were assigned to the Airport Port Health Station"

Among all frontline workers in the COVID-19 Pandemic thus far, nurses continue to play a pivotal role at all levels of our health care system including our ports of entry.

The role of those nurses who have been working at our ports of entry, particularly those assigned to the Airport Port Health Station is critical in minimizing the inherent health risks associated with international travel, during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

This role which involves mainly surveillance and screening is significant, as part of the strategy in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 on our country through early detection of imported cases at the border, followed by isolation and contact tracing to contain and control the spread. The nurses background in public health equips them with the requisite skills to carry-out these functions effectively.

From the initiation of point-of-entry surveillance at the start of the pandemic, five (5) Public Health Nurses positions were created for the airport port health unit. This modest number which proved adequate during the lockdown, became evidently inadequate once the boarders were re-opened and the number of international flights and passengers gradually increased starting in June 2020.

This increased demand for surveillance staff, led to a decision to re-deploy on a temporary basis, (nurses from other areas of the health care system mainly from the Community Nursing Services) to provide the additional support at the Airport, Port Health Station, as efforts to recruit new nurses was unsuccessful mainly due to persons being fearful of what was at the time, a disease about which very little was known compared to present.

The condition of the redeployment was that Community Health Nurses who expressed interest in assisting at the airport after completing their work at their respective clinics, would cover the late shift at the airport port health station which begins at 1:30 and ends at 10pm. This was done at least 2 days per week or when possible, which may or may not include weekend days. This was a temporary arrangement that was not expected to last beyond the pandemic crisis. The nurses were compensated for this work in addition to their regular pay. Payments tended to be late but would eventually be made. To date, most if not all of the nurses have received payment up to March 2021. I have no reason to think that the outstanding payments though late, will not be paid.

I wish to use this medium to thank all of the nurses who have worked at the Airport Port Health Station and those who continue to work there, for their contribution thus far towards the protection of our boarders during the on-going COVID-19 crisis, through the application of the various public health measures and response capacity utilized in their course of work, in helping to protect the health and well-being of travelers entering our borders and by extension, the people of Antigua and Barbuda.

Principal Nursing Officer
Margaret Smith