Police officer on guard outside Queen Beatrix Medical Center.
ST. EUSTATIUS--All For One labour union and nurses at Queen Beatrix Medical Center (QBMC) met on Friday, November 11, to discuss a situation related to a quality care nurse who is accused of having stolen some ampules of morphine. The nurse came to St. Eustatius to train nurses on the island.
When morphine and keys went missing, the hospital conducted an investigation during which all nurses were under suspicion and interrogated. During the investigation it was learned that the quality care nurse had reportedly admitted to the theft.
All for 1 union leader Charles Woodley said, “There appears to be a difference in the way the hospital is handling this case compared to how they would have handled a case had it involved a local nurse.” The union represents more than 40 employees at the hospital.
“This situation should be dealt with in the correct manner, which is this nurse is supposed to face prosecution in the way it would have been done with anyone else,” Woodley said.
Nurses wearing black in protest.
St. Eustatius Health Care Foundation (SEHCF), which manages QBMC, issued a statement in which interim director of the supervisory board Frank Rothweiler said, “There has been an incident within the SEHCF that has led us to contact the police authorities to perform an investigation. The outcome of the investigation resulted in identifying the person responsible for the incident.
“Considering the severity of the incident we have reported the incident and the subsequent outcome of the investigation to the Inspectorate of Healthcare and Youth. The pertinent law authorities are handling this incident and are dealing with the person responsible for the incident.
“SEHCF has taken the appropriate steps and followed the law in this unfortunate incident.”
Woodley said the nurses were “very frustrated and emotional” about what had transpired in the investigation. “They all were investigated by detectives, but they knew that they were innocent,” he said.
During a meeting with the nurses and the SEHCF interim director which lasted for about an hour, union representative Woodley accused Rothweiler of “helping the accused nurse and treating her like the victim, while she is in fact under investigation.”
At that moment Rothweiler left the meeting, stating that he would not be coming back. Woodley then messaged SEHCF’s supervisory board co-chairman and Quality Committee member Vito Koeijers, informing him about the situation. Later, two supervisory board members arrived and had a discussion with the director, while not addressing anyone else.
According to Woodley, Rothweiler returned to the room later and told hospital staff members that he would talk to the staff, but that their union representative would need to leave the building. Rothweiler said he would not engage in discussions with Woodley.
At that moment the nurses stated that if the director would not engage in discussion with the union representative then he could not talk to them.
Rothweiler said he would call the police to the hospital to have the union representative removed. The Caribbean Netherlands Police Force KPCN was then called to the hospital. Three KPCN officers were at the entrance to QBMC on Friday.
The union representative was upset to learn on Friday that a flight had been arranged for the accused nurse to leave Statia the following day without her being prosecuted. “Had it been one of our nurses, she would have been behind bars,” Woodley said.
Woodley called for the director’s and the supervisory board’s resignation or firing. “The conduct demonstrated during this incident is not right and shows a measure of corruption that should not be present at the hospital. The nurses are very emotional and disappointed in the actions taken by the director and the board. The nurses are now wearing black to demonstrate their distaste for how this situation was handled by management and the board.”
The nurse who is suspected of the morphine theft was flown off-island on Saturday, November 12.