Joined by their colleagues from St. Eustatius, healthcare workers on Saba celebrated International Healthcare Workers Day on Thursday, May 12. The program started with an ecumenical service at the Roman Catholic Church in The Bottom.
This was the first time that International Healthcare Workers Day was celebrated under this new name. Before, it was called International Nurses Day. To make this event extra special, a group of healthcare workers came over from St. Eustatius to celebrate the day with their colleagues on Saba. The group of 25 Statia healthcare workers was headed by nurse Carol Jack-Roosberg. The group arrived by ferry in the morning and stayed for the day.
Everyone working in the local healthcare sector was invited to attend the program. Not only the employees of Saba Cares, but also personnel of the Care and Youth Caribbean Netherlands ZJCN, the Testing Center, the Public Health Department, the Vector Control/Hygiene Department, Med work, and Saba Wellness Pharmacy.
Father Zbigniew ‘Zibi’ Orlikowski and Pastor Vernon Liburd hosted the well-attended ecumenical church service. “You are there when people need it most. Your job involves so much more than just providing care. Thank you for being there, for caring, and for lifting people up,” said Father Zibi in his welcoming words.
“You are highly valuable to your community. Thank God for having you. It is a noble profession that you carry out. You work under strenuous situations. You are devoted to caring for others and you care for us from cradle to death. I applaud your dedication, your commitment, and your tenacity,” said Pastor Liburd who did the blessing preceded by a moment of silence for “those who have lost the battle.”
Because she could not personally be present, Saba Cares Director Judith Meijer shared her message via a short video. She thanked everyone for their contribution to the healthcare system. She said the profession not only involved the physical aspect of people’s health, but also mental health, making people feel comfortable and addressing loneliness for which social support is vital. Meijer called on the healthcare workers to not only support their community, but also each other.
Commissioner of Public Health Rolando Wilson welcomed the Statia delegation to Saba. “On Saba Day, I said that it is important to reach out to our brothers and sisters on neighboring Statia, and here you are.” He said that it was an honor to acknowledge healthcare workers as “pillars who work tirelessly” to safeguard people’s health.
“You are the frontline workers who risk your life on a daily basis to help others in need. The community at large has to treat all healthcare workers with dignity and respect. Let us not forget other healthcare workers around the world and remember those who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic while caring for others,” said Wilson.
Nurse Felicia Dookhan read a poem by caregiver Yvonne Ugarte about kindness, what it does and how essential it is in caring for each other. Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Saba Cares Sydney Sorton thanked all healthcare workers for their hard work, dedication, contribution to the community, and for the betterment of healthcare.
Carol Jack-Roosberg said it was important for healthcare workers not to forget about themselves. “If you don’t care for yourself, you cannot care for others.” She said the uniform did not make a person a nurse, but rather everything that the person does impact the job. She called on nurses to get together, work together and empower each other for the benefit of the island communities.
After a closing word by Father Zibi, the healthcare workers gathered for a group photo in front of the church and then went for brunch and festivities at Saba Cares next door.