19 doc­tors on leave from NA Hos­pi­tal

-elec­tri­cal is­sues leave de­part­ments non-func­tional at Skel­don Hos­pi­tal

Stabroek News Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - By Bebi Oos­man

Some 19 doc­tors, rep­re­sent­ing just over a third of those at­tached to the New Am­s­ter­dam Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal, in Ber­bice, are presently on leave, prompt­ing con­cerns by the Re­gion Six ad­min­is­tra­tion about the im­pact on both the re­main­ing staff and pa­tients.

“The few who are re­main­ing are not able to take the load at the New Am­s­ter­dam Hos­pi­tal. What we [also] find [is] when peo­ple come for treat­ment at the ac­ci­dent and emer­gency unit, they have to wait un­til a doc­tor is avail­able and that is not ac­cept­able,” Re­gion Six Chair­man David Ar­mo­gan told a statu­tory meet­ing of the Re­gional Demo­cratic Coun­cil (RDC) last Thurs­day.

Also high­lighted at the meet was that the hos­pi­tal is with­out a Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer and that sev­eral de­part­ments at the Skel­don Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal are not cur­rently func­tion­ing due to an elec­tri­cal is­sue.

Ar­mo­gan said he learned that the Med­i­cal Su­per­in­ten­dent of the New Am­s­ter­dam Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal, Vi­neshri Khi­rod­har, who is presently on leave, ap­proved leave for 18 other doc­tors at­tached to the hos­pi­tal. A to­tal of 55 doc­tors are at­tached to the hos­pi­tal.

He ad­mit­ted that he does not know the process be­ing used at the fa­cil­ity but noted that in the past doc­tors ap­plied at the be­gin­ning of each year for leave and their ap­pli­ca­tions were then sub­mit­ted to the Hu­man Re­sources De­part­ment, “So it is ros­tered in such a way that the sys­tem doesn’t suf­fer, [so] that at any given point of time there is enough cov­er­age to cater for the peo­ple. That is the prob­lem we have to­day—send ev­ery­body on leave and shut the sys­tem down!” he lamented.

Re­gion Six’s Di­rec­tor of Re­gional Health Ser­vices Je­vaughn Stephen, who was also present at the statu­tory meet­ing, said that he was un­aware of that ap­proval was given for the com­ple­ment of doc­tors to pro­ceed on leave. He stated that it was only re­alised that the doc­tors were on leave af­ter the now act­ing Med­i­cal Su­per­in­ten­dent took over. “My of­fice hasn’t even seen the ap­pli­ca­tion as yet. The min­istry is aware of it also and we are tak­ing the nec­es­sary ac­tions,” he, how­ever, added.

The hos­pi­tal has also been with­out a CEO since the con­tract for the pre­vi­ous of­fice holder, Colin By­noe, was not re­newed by the Min­istry of Pub­lic Health and it ex­pired on Septem­ber

by the Min­istry of Pub­lic Health and it ex­pired on Septem­ber 30th.

Stephen also came un­der fire for the sit­u­a­tion at the Skel­don Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal, af­ter re­ports were re­ceived that sev­eral de­part­ments have not been func­tion­ing for over two months due to an elec­tri­cal is­sue. Ar­mo­gan told the coun­cil that he re­ceived re­ports from res­i­dents in the Up­per Coren­tyne area that the X-ray, ul­tra­sound and phys­io­ther­apy de­part­ments were not func­tion­ing. How­ever, Stephen claimed that the is­sue has been on­go­ing for about four weeks.

“The rea­son, chair, that we had to take off some of the ser­vices [is] be­cause the build­ing used to get power from GuySuCo and it is no longer get­ting power from GuySuCo,” he said. “If we con­nect the equip­ment in the build­ing presently we are run­ning a se­ri­ous risk,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to Stephen, presently ef­forts are be­ing made to have the build­ing placed on the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) grid “and that is what is tak­ing so long.”

Stephen said he has made sev­eral calls to GPL in or­der to seek as­sis­tance to speed up the process but to no avail. How­ever, Ar­mo­gan noted that af­ter the meet­ing he would phone GPL, so as to as­sist. “We can’t sit down and make the ex­cuse. We got to try and push,” Ar­mo­gan stressed. It was also sug­gested that a gen­er­a­tor could have been rented to sup­ply power, since the ser­vices are very im­por­tant to the pub­lic. When asked by the chair­man whether that would be pos­si­ble, Stephen replied, “I will dis­cuss that with the REO (Re­gional Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer), sir.”

Health cen­tres still to be opened

Mean­while, the meet­ing also dis­cussed two health cen­ters that have been con­structed but which have not com­menced op­er­a­tion since then.

The mat­ter was high­lighted by the Re­gional Vice Chair­man, De­nis Deroop, who stressed that it was un­ac­cept­able and that res­i­dents are in dire need of the ser­vices.

Sun­day Stabroek was told that a $20 mil­lion con­tract for the health cen­tre lo­cated at the Num­ber 76 Vil­lage, Coren­tyne, was awarded to Me­morex in 2017, while the $16 mil­lion con­tract for the health cen­tre lo­cated at the Pleg­tanker Vil­lage, East Bank Ber­bice was awarded back in 2016 to Den­nis Ta­hal.

Both health cen­tres, which have never been in op­er­a­tion, are un­der­go­ing re­me­dial works, Stephen told the coun­cil on Thurs­day. “Plumb­ing and elec­tri­cal work hasn’t been com­pleted and that is why we haven’t oc­cu­pied the build­ing as well,” he said. “Both ar­eas we are await­ing com­ple­tion of those works,” he added.

How­ever, Ar­mo­gan ques­tioned when the de­fi­cien­cies were iden­ti­fied. “Was the con­trac­tor asked to go and cor­rect those de­fi­cien­cies? What was the pe­riod of war­ranty? There are so many ques­tions that can be asked and I don’t think you have the an­swers for any. It is to­tally un­ac­cept­able! We can’t come three years af­ter and say the rea­son why the thing can’t be opened as yet [is] be­cause there are struc­tural de­fi­cien­cies, which should have been iden­ti­fied weeks af­ter the build­ing was com­pleted. I’m sure the con­trac­tor got paid com­pletely for it,” he said.

Mean­while, on Fri­day Sun­day Stabroek vis­ited the Pleg­tanker Health Cen­tre, which is heav­ily in­fested with mari­bun­tas and no­ticed clean­ing works be­ing done on the build­ing while a few nurses were seated on the bridge.

How­ever, res­i­dents of the area were very sur­prised, as they noted that it would have been the first time they would have seen so many nurses present at the health fa­cil­ity.

Nandika Tomby, who has resided in the vil­lage for over 12 years said, “This health cen­tre never worked be­fore. No­body never come here be­fore. This is the first time them come here.” The woman said the build­ing has been up for close to two years now. Asked what is done in a health emer­gency, Tomby ex­plained, “Well that is nuff prob­lem. We does got to hire a ve­hi­cle to go out and we does take like three hours some­times”.

The woman noted, that in or­der to hire a ve­hi­cle it would cost an av­er­age of $10,000.

Tara Devi Tom­bran, 41, an­other res­i­dent, ex­plained that one nurse would visit the area ev­ery few months and check on the build­ing and then leave. “We al­ways hear it will open any­time and we never hear the ex­act time,” she said.

The clos­est health fa­cil­ity to the vil­lage is a health cen­ter lo­cated in Sis­ters Vil­lage, East Bank Ber­bice, sev­eral vil­lages away. Mean­while, Ar­mo­gan on Thurs­day called on the health di­rec­tor to en­sure that the health cen­tres com­mence op­er­a­tion as soon as pos­si­ble.

The Pleg­tanker Health Cen­tre on Fri­day

Works be­ing done at the Pleg­tanker Health Cen­tre on Fri­day

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