Trainee nurses halt protest over school relocation

– to engage Health Ministry in other ways

Students of the Georgetown School of Nursing have called off their protest against the relocation of their school and are looking at different avenues to engage the Ministry of Health.

The trainee nurses began protest action nearly two weeks ago after a few of them were evicted from a classroom at the Georgetown School of Nursing on East Street by contractors who informed them that they could no longer occupy the building.

The students objected to moving to the Annex of the school, complaining that the building does not have sufficient accommodation. The students also griped that they were made aware that the transfer was initiated by Minister of Health Dr Bheri Ramsaran. They said they had made several attempts to contact Ramsaran but all failed.

Efforts by this newspaper to contact Ramsaran for a comment on the matter also proved futile.

Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, one of the trainees, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, stated that the student body was looking at other avenues to engage the ministry officials. “But if that fails then we will come together as a committee and decide what action should be taken,” she added.

She affirmed that the nurses remain resistant to the relocation of the school. She stated that the new location could not accommodate the large number of students, adding that there was not enough space for a canteen.

On Tuesday, the students had turned up at the school and found the gates padlocked. Barred from entering, they demonstrated with placards.

The protest later moved to the Health Ministry in Brickdam.

“We asked to speak with the minister because we heard that he was the one who wants us moved but no one came out and spoke to us,” one student said.

Assistant Public Relations Officer of the student society Onika Harris said they had written to the minister but received no response. Harris said it was only two weeks ago that they became aware that the school was being relocated to the Annex. She said they had observed construction being carried out on the building but thought nothing of it since they believed it was being extended to accommodate a new batch of students.

“It was not until later when the construction workers chased us out of the classroom [that we knew] the building was handed over to the Georgetown Public Hospital and the University of Guyana,” she said, adding that no one had informed the administrators of the school.

She said the Annex is already being shared by medical technicians and other health workers and so an additional 400 nursing students would only serve to overcrowd the building further. She said some of the nurses who had moved there already were being trained on a shift system.

“Words cannot express my feelings… This is directly affecting us and so we were the ones who should have been consulted,” she said, noting that many of the students are mothers and most of them had moved their children to daycare centres close to the school. “It is convenient for us to be here, not only because of our children but also because [of its] proximity to our training centre, which is the Georgetown Hospital,” she added.

Harris also stated that the minister had made it clear “through certain means of communications” that he did not wish to meet them. “He is much aware of the decision he made and he knows it’s not a wise one,” she said.

Another student protested that a nursing school should only have nursing students instead of medics and medical technicians and nurses sharing the same building.

“We are very peeved about it and it affects us directly… The minister is the chief in this…. How he acted against us has left us very upset about it,” the nurse said.

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