Nurses want $1M COVID death payout

The T&T Registered Nurses’ Association (TTRNA) is asking the Government to consider a $1 million payout in the event any nurse loses their life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The request comes in the wake of the death of head nurse Merlene Placide at the Caura Hospital last week. While Placide’s death was not COVID-related, the anxiety of the fraternity has once again been heightened after what nurses claimed was the poor response to the North Central Regional Health Authority following her death.

Placide volunteered her services for COVID duty and reportedly set up the virus unit at Caura. However, following her death, the NCRHA only sent a fruit basket and a wreath to her family, as per policy with RHA’s. This prompted calls for hazard pay, death benefits and health insurance nurses now on the COVID frontline.

In a 10-page letter Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh on Monday (April 27), the TTRNA, which is headed by Idi Stuart, proposed that a $1 million disbursement be paid to the beneficiaries of nurses “in the unfortunate circumstance that he or she dies while on duty or in route to or from duty as a direct result of work.” It said the cost to the Government is to be determined.

The TTRNA also asked for tiered Hazard allowance for nurses and midwives working in hazardous situations. It said this will cost Government $9,182, 520 per year.

The third request is a proposal for a contributory and mandatory Health Insurance Benefit at $500,000 over a three-year period to be administered through the TTRNA’s existing policy with TATIL. The expected cost per year to the Government, as worked out by the TTRNA, is $12,600.

At the COVID-19 news conference yesterday, Deyalsingh said Regional Health Authorities were gearing up to approach the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) to discuss medical coverage for the healthcare providers. He said he discussed the matter with the CEOs of all the RHAs yesterday and was told that all RHAs “have some sort of insurance for healthcare workers; healthcare workers in general, not a particular group.”

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