Material Information

History of the Nurses Association of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Nurses Association of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Place of Publication:
Nassau, Bahamas
Nurses Association of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
4 p. : col. ill. ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Nurses -- Bahamas -- Biography
Nursing -- Bahamas -- History
Nurses -- Bahamas -- Awards
Nurses Association of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas -- History
collective biography ( marcgt )


General Note:
Theme for the Gala: Nurses: Champions for Health and Sustainable Development Held: 9th December at 7:00 pm at the Baha Mar Convention Arts & Entertainment Center, Cable Beach, Nassau, Bahamas
General Note:
Includes a brief history of the Nurses Association of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Statement of Responsibility:
Nurses Association of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of The Bahamas
Holding Location:
University of The Bahamas
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HE NUR-ES ASSOCl.\TIO='OF THE COMMO 1WEALTH O F THE BAHAMAS CELEBRATING 70 YEARS U"-111 1 vR'r ... Ov" LEG/-\ Nurse' Association of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas (NACB): A brief history The NACB has a long and interesting history when viewed through the lens of Bahamian labour history and, more specifically, Bahamian women' s history. Through its 70 years of existence, the NACB has evolved, championing the struggle for professional recognition of a predominantly female profession. The Ori gins Private Duty Nurses' Registry Labour history in the Bahamas began in the 1930s with the establishment of the Bahamas Labour Union and the Bahamas Federat ion of Labour. The Burma Road riot of 1942 was the tipping point -when Bahamian workers were paid less than imported American labour to build the Oakes Field a irport. The unrest that ensued may have ignited consciousness in all parts of society and all sectors of the economy, including nurses. In nursing, there was also a history of unfa ir differential in wages paid to Bahamiantrained nurses and the British Matron and nurses hired by the Bahamas government through the Colonial Nurses Association. A further schism was that the few Bahamians trained in hospitals in the United States and who then returned to the Bahamas were not able to work at the Bahamas General Hospital as their qualifications were not deemed to be equivalent to those of a British State Registered Nurse. As a result, these nurses had to find other employment, and as a result many worked as private duty nurses in people's homes. The mild climate of the Bahamas was favourable for rest and recuperation, hence tourism industry had long promoted the country as a place for invalids or tourists wishing to escape the winter. Many well-heeled tourists brought a nurse with them, thus, the private duty nurses had competition for the few available jobs. I n the earl y 1940s, Yvonne North, a Bahamian nurse trained in New York at the Lincoln School for Nurses, established the Private Nurses Registry. By banding together in an association, the private duty nurses could demand better wages from their private employers, ensure that local nurses would be hired and make their presence known to local physicians who needed nurses in their practices. Bahamas Graduate Nurses Association A nurses association was founded on May 30, 1947 by Nurses Rose Morrison Weir, Yvonne North and Vivienne Longley, with Virginia Gibson becoming its first president. The new association did not have a name at first, but had the objectives of improving the nurse' s conditions of work and protectin g their interests. The famous Bahamian lawyer A.F. Adderley wrote the association' s constitution and called it the Bahamas Graduate Nurses Association (BGNA) Some of the achievements of this early association included the introduction of an 8-hour shift making linkages among other health care professions and purchasing a plot of land on Jerome Avenue in Pyfrom' s Addition with the intention of building a nurse' s residential home. Following in the steps of the first president were Naomi Walkes and Catherine Brown, each of whom served as president until Vivienne Longle y who became the association' s longest-serving president, 1959-1968. To further cement the status of the Bahamas Graduate Nurses Association among other nursing associations, they sought membership in regional and international nur s e s associations. The BGNA was admitted to membership of the Caribbean Nurses Organiza tion in 1967. Longley travelled to Geneva to the International Council of Nurses (ICN) conference to initiate the process for nurses associations in the Bahamas to gain admittance to the ICN. Soon afterward Dame Sheila Quinn of the ICN come to the Bahamas to advise on the process for joining. Until there was a statutor y body for nursing in the Bahamas, such as the Nursing Council, the Bahamas could not join. Members of the BGNS were involved i n the formulation of the Nurses and Midwives Act of 1971 and were required to nominate three of the 10 members of the Nursing Council which was established under that act. Following the establishment of the Nursing Council o f the Commonwealth of The Bahamas i n 1971, Bahamas Graduate Nurses Association President lronaca Morris (1970-1972) applied for membership in the ICN. T h e Nurses Association of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas (NACB) The Bahamas Graduate Nurses Association took on a new name, the Nurses Association of the Bahamas (NACB) and became a full member of the International Council of Nurses in M a y 1973 at the closing ceremony of the ICN conference. The president of the new Association was Brendel Cox, a private duty nurse. The new umbrella Association united all nurses -registered nurses and t r a ined cli n ical nurses (at that time called enrolled nurses) whether publicly and privately employed. The mission of the Association was to advocate for nurses on four important issues: standards of professional practice, educational advancement, improving the socio-economi c welfare of nurses (better salaries and work conditions) and provide support for retired nurses. The NACB would also coordinate the registry for Private Duty Nurses. The union was not welcomed by all the members, as they felt that the two groups d i d not have common objectives, but in retrospect, i t was proved to be the best way forward for the nursing profession.


The new association published a journal in 1973, The Nurses Review, presenting a nice mixture of articles on professional issues, education, politics and the role of the professional association. A second volume was published i n 1976-77 containing short articles the many regional and i n ternational nursing organizations to which the NACB was allied: the Caribbean Nurses Organization, the Regional Nursing Body, the Commonwealth Nursing Federation, and the International Council of Nurses. Great moments in the history of the NACB I n 1982, the NACB hosted the 131h Biennial Conference of the Caribbean Nurses Organization (CNO) where the assembled nurses considered the role of nursing in primary health care. No doubt p lanning for the conference was the work of members and presidents, Esmeralda Rutherford (1977-1980) and Celeste Lockhart (1980-1984). The NACB again welcomed CNO members to the Bahamas 25 years later in 2007, when they hosted the Silver Jubilee Conference of the CNO. One of the greatest achievements of the NACB was under the presidency of Celeste Lockhart. The Association raised the funds to acquire the former Bahamas Red Cross building on Dowdeswell Street, not far from the Princess Margaret Hospital, thereby, creating a headquarters for their activities. President Andil B LaRoda (1984-1987) oversaw the renovation and Longley House was officially opened in 1985. The NACB members worked hard raising funds and managed to pay off the mortgage on the property within five years. In November 1991 a Mortgage Burning Ceremony was celebrate the Association' s final payment for the building. Attending the ceremony were President, Gloria D Ferguson (1990-1992) were Past Presidents Lockhart, Rutherford and Ernestine Douglas (1987-1990). In recognition of her contribution to the NACB, the meeting hall was named the Celeste Lockhart Room. In the years following, Presidents Ernestine J Douglas, Gloria D Ferguson, and Castella Bowleg (1992-1996), all nurse educators, and their teams oversaw the annual nurses conferences which usually followed the ICN theme, such as: Nursing Reaching out to Touch one Another (1986), Promoting Nursing' s Heritage (1989), The Changing Trends and Approaches to Health Care (1993) and Health Care that Matters (1994). The annual conferences gave the membershi p a chance to present research, learn about trends and issues i n health care, and strengthen the Association. In addition, NACB President Castella Bowleg and Willamae Stuart represented the Bahamas at one of a series of ICN workshops held i n 1990-1991, focusing on national regulations governing nursing and how the national association coul d influence legi s lative change. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the M inistry of Health endeavored to strengthen nursing by establishing a Nursing Advisory Com mittee. Although the NACB was not officially represented on the committee, many of the members of the NACB were past presidents of the NACB or members. The Nurses Recognition Committee (a subcommittee of the NACB) had to mission to raise the morale among the Bahamian nursing profession by sponsoring Nurses Recognition Week. The event focused on acknowledging the work of long-serving nurses by presenting them with certificates and plaques at a luncheon. The ICN launched its Leadership for Change (LFC) initiative in 1996 with funding from the Kellogg Foundation to encourage and increase nurse participation in national healthcare policy-making and develop the skills nurse leaders needed assume larger roles in the leadership and management of health care services. NCAB President Castella Bowleg was instrumental in bringing the Leadership for Change programme to the Bahamas and Sally Shaw, the ICN Leadership for Change Project coordinator visited the Bahamas. Nurse educators Maggie Turner, Willamae Hamilton-Stuart and Patricia Miller-Brown received a grant from the Kellogg Foundation to become the first LCF trainers for the Bahamas and under the auspices of the NACB held leadership workshops for nurses in The Bahamas. Shortly thereafter, under the leadership of Joy Tucker (1996-1998) over the 501h anniversary celebrations in 1997. The NCAB held a gala banquet celebrating the theme "Healthy Young People: A Brighter Tomorrow. The New Century. NACB Presidents during thi s period were Bernadette Ellis (1998-2000), Nathalee Bonimy (2000-2002) and Ampusam Symonette (2002-2006). NACB President Bernadette Ellis negotiated for the month of May to be declared Nurses Month and the first Nurses Month inclusive of Nurses Day, was launched i n May 1999. I n the earl y 2000s, in conjunction w ith the Ministry of Health, the Public Hospital s Authority and the Doctor's Hospital, the NACB was instrumental i n establishing the National Nurses' Recognition Awards. The competition and awards held between 2002-2006 recognized excellence i n the nursing profession and to honour to practicing nurses in both the public and private health sectors. NACB President Bernadette Ellis and Secretary Pandora Hanna met with Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Lois Symonette, and lobbied for the President of the Association to sit as a member of the Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities Licensing Board that was established under statute in 1998 and was the first NACB President to sit on the Board. In addition, recognizing the amount of work required in order to accomplish the goals of the Association, President Bernadette Ellis negotiated with the Ministry of Health -


a n d received approval for the President, Secretary and Treasurer to have a full day MONTHLY OR WEEKLY rather than the half day on Wednesday to carry out the Association' s business. During Ampusam Symonette' s presidency, the NACB developed mission and vision statements and issued a newsletter. In October 2006 the NACB hosted the 25t h Biennial conference of the Caribbean Nurses Organization. Over 450 members of the CNO and the Caribbean-American Nurses Association attended the silver anniversary CNO conference. A major achievement for the NACB was that 16 Bahamian nurses presented research papers. After having been inactive for several years, in 2004 the NACB signed a new contract with the ICN to reactivate the Leadership for Change programme. Dr Stephanie Ferguson came to the Bahamas to deliver training for the facilitators of the programme. Presidents Prescola Rolle (2006-2008), Rosemarie Josey (2008-2010), Persephone Munnings (2010-2012) along with Kateca Graham (2012-2014) and Paulette Cash (2014-2018) continued the tradition of Bahamian attending and presenting at regional and international nursing conferences, such as the ICN and the Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation, as well as, sponsoring annual re search conferences locally. The themes of these conferences were bringing the members of the NACB into the debate about national health care and the role of nurses in building a healthier nation. NACB speech competition was started during the presidency of Rose marie Josey and has become an annual event. During this period, the NACB moved to adopt new technology to communicate with its membership, as well as widen its membership beyond the i s land of New Providence. Association Secretary, Jennifer King (2006-2010) initiated email communication, the NACB web site was launched under President Persephone Munnings, and the NACB Facebook page set up under Kateca Graham. And under Rosemary Josey' s direction, the NCAB established a branch in E leuthera. Recognizing that its nurse leaders need a global perspective on laws and regulations, policies, decision-making, as well as understand ing how to build and maintain networks, the NACB has sent nurses in senior and executive level positions to the ICN-sponsored annual Global Nursing Leadership Institute each year since its implementation. After a hiatus of several years, the NACB reinstated an event to honour nurses in the Bahamas. The Zenith Award was conceived as a prestigious award to recognize nurses for their achievements and contributions to nursing, healthcare, community service and national development. The Inaugural Zenith Award gal a was held at Government House on November 15, 2014. In an effort to further enhance bargaining and negotiation skills that Bahamian nurse leaders need in today' s healthcare environment, the NACB offered the ICN' s Leadership in Negotiation (LIN) programme over 12 months in 2014-2015, with nine nurses graduating in 2015. Mrs. Kateca Graham, Ms. Paulette Cash, Mrs. Willamae Stuart and Mrs. Rosemarie Josey served as faciliatators for the Pro gramme. As well, the NACB negotiated a new contract with the ICN in 2014 to offer the Leadership for Change (LFC) program, this time offering the programme to nurses working outside of New Providence and as well as, to smaller island nations of the Caribbean. Mrs. Rosemarie Josey became the new National Coordinator and Mrs. Willamae Stuart became the Lead Facilitator. They offered the program to nurses in Grand Bahama in 2014 and 15 nurses participated and graduated. Other achievements in recent years have been to develop a conceptual Model of Nursing for the NACB, as well as, formulating position statements on aging and s tem cell research. The NACB continues w ith its community-based initiatives, educational forums, including a Nursing Research Day and annual Educational Forum, as well as, promotional activities to market the image of Nursing. Under the leadership of its current President, Dr. Paulette Cash (Ph.D), the Association has reactivated its Nurses' Relief Fund to assist nurses in crisis and is currenUy pursuing efforts to establish a National Nursing Foundation and Training and Development Institute. Additionally, the NACB remains focused on strengthening its strategic partnerships and affiliations for the advancement of the profession and ad vancement of the national, regional and global health agenda. As the Nurses' Association of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas celebrates its 70111 anniversary in 2017, it does so knowing that the role it has played in promoting the profession, in mentoring and education, improving the socio-economic welfare of nurses and raising the standards of nursing car e and nursing leadership in the Bahamas will be its hallmark for the future. Note: Many documents produced by the Nurses' Association of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas have been scanned and are available in an online repository called the Digital Library of the Caribbean: If you have graduation, banquet or funeral pro grammes, newspaper clippings, or photographs that you would like to contribute to this online resource, you will contribute by enriching our knowledge and appreciation for the role of nurses in building The Bahamas. Please contact the Nurses Association at nursesasso or Virginia Ballance at