Dozens of nurses left their patients unattended yesterday at the Georgetown Public Hospital to protest what they say was the “wrongful” dismissal of their Director of Nursing Services Colleen Hicks by the hospital’s CEO Michael Khan.
The nurses stood outside of the hospital for two hours, holding up placards and calling for Khan’s removal as the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer. The protest began after the nurses and other health care workers got the news that Hicks was terminated with immediate effect by Khan.
Khan told Stabroek News that Hicks was not fired as was rumoured throughout the hospital. He stated that she was on a probationary period and it ended yesterday and the hospital decided to terminate her service.
After no one came out of Khan’s office to speak with them yesterday, the nurses flocked the entrance of his office, only to be calmed by Hicks herself and senior departmental supervisor Keith Alonzo.
Hicks, whose office is also in the same building as Khan’s, quieted the nurses and instructed them to return to their departments. She stated that the nurses need to take back nursing from the hands of people who were not nurses, gaining a resounding “yes!” from the protestors.
“We are licensed to practise under the laws of this country and it’s important to recognise we need to guard our licence,” she said, again urging them to return to their departments. However, the nurses refused.
Hicks then advised them to remain focused despite the circumstances. She stated that she had not been paid “for the time I have been here…but we will continue to stand resolute”.
She added: “the autonomy of nursing has been taken away and we are taking it back”.
Speaking to Stabroek News, Khan said “She wasn’t fired. I won’t consider that firing,” adding that Hicks had not yet collected her letter of termination.
Khan said she was terminated because a memo was sent to her to state why disciplinary action should not be taken against her since she refused to respond to a letter from him. Hicks was supposed to give a response in 48 hours but “fifteen days has passed and she still hasn’t responded to me.”
“It’s gross insubordination,’ he said.
A senior official at the hospital disclosed that Khan had sent Hicks a letter pertaining to several issues that needed to be addressed but she had refused to comply with his instructions. Subsequently, the memo was sent to her.
Hicks had worked at the hospital several years ago but had left and only returned three months ago.