After being out sick since the end August because of an ongoing personnel dispute with the administrator, the three registered nurses at Morris deCastro Clinic on St. John returned to work Wednesday.
“I’m glad to be back to work,” one of the nurses said Friday, declining to allow her named to be used because Health Department employees are not allowed to speak publicly.
She said clients had stopped the nurses in the street asking when they would return to work.
The nurses agreed to return to work after meeting with Health Department officials Monday. The Health Department in October transferred the administrator to a St. Thomas post. However, the nurse said she and her colleagues want it in writing that the supervisor is officially gone because prior to their return to work but after his transfer, he was “in and out” of Morris deCastro. The nurse also said that he stood by the front door in what appeared to be an attempt to intimidate other employees.
The nurses had a lengthy list of complaints against the administrator, including one incident in which he pushed a nurse. In addition to numerous shouting matches with employees, they said he was often away from the job during working hours, used the clinic vehicles for personal use and instructed another employee to park the clinic vehicles so nurses can’t access the limited parking.
Another registered nurse, Jane Washburn, previously said she left her job because of problems with the administrator.
Another nurse who had been working at Morris deCastro did not have her contract renewed.
While the nurses were out sick, the Health Department relied on licensed practical nurses to fill in although registered nurses are required to be on the job to supervise, nurses previously said. A nurse said previously that services were vastly reduced.
Morris deCastro has no physicians assigned to the facility. Instead, the registered nurses run the various programs.
The nurse who spoke on condition of anonymity said the nurses tried to get a meeting with Health Department officials since then the administrator was transferred, even traveling to St. Thomas two weeks ago for a scheduled meeting where the officials failed to show up.
After meeting Monday at Morris deCastro and the nurses agreed to return to work.
Health Department spokesman Eunice Bedminster sent out a terse response Friday that indicated the nurses had returned to work Wednesday.
At issue is back pay. The nurse said although she got her full pay on Thursday’s payday, she is still owned for many weeks of sick leave.
The nurse said that the Health Department refused to accept medical excuse notes from several health practitioners who said the nurses were too ill to work. The nurse said stress from dealing with the supervisor was the main culprit.