As nurses across Antigua and Barbuda celebrate Nurses’ Week 2021, the memory of a colleague who died after contracting the COVID-19 virus will be honoured.
To this end, Minister of Health Molwyn Joseph has committed to inaugurating an annual Award of Excellence, beginning 2022, to honour the late matron, Cynthia “Sister Love” Byers.
Joseph made the announcement while addressing the official opening ceremony of the Week of Activities, which got underway on May 10 and concludes May 16.
The accolade, christened the “Nurse Byers Achievement of Excellence Award,” will be presented to a nurse who exemplifies the highest level of commitment and dedication to service.
“The award will memorialize the service of excellence displayed by one of Antigua and Barbuda’s exemplary healthcare professionals … up to the time of her passing,” the Minister says of Byers.
The winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000 in addition to a commemorative plaque.
Earlier this year, Joseph recounted his first encounter with Nurse Byers, whom he described as a remarkable daughter of the soil.
Following the passage of Hurricane Irma in 2017, she “spared no effort in ensuring … that the most comprehensive coverage was given to the Barbuda healthcare system to restore some semblance of normalcy on the island,” the Minister said, then.
He also commended the work of Byers in the fight against COVID-19, as she tried to ensure the protection of national borders. Matron Byers was a key person on the frontline at the V.C. Bird International Airport, making daily checks of persons entering the country.
She worked at Holberton Hospital and in the Intensive Care Unit of the Mount St. John Medical Centre until she became matron of the Hanna Thomas Hospital in Barbuda.
Byers was then assigned to the post of deputy matron of the Fiennes Institute. She was subsequently posted to the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital to act as its matron just one week before her passing on February 15 this year.