Help and Shelter, Georgetown Hospital set up referral system

Stabroek News
April 13, 2000

A referral system between Help and Shelter and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), which is expected to achieve privacy for and improve the specialised care of victims of domestic violence by 75%, was launched yesterday.

The referral system would be a two-way process involving the psychological elements of counselling and the priority treatment of patients of domestic violence in a confidential atmosphere, Chief Executive Officer of the GPHC, Michael Khan, said.

According to Help and Shelter Director/Counsellor, Vidya Kissoon, 20% to 30% of emergency cases were as a result of domestic violence. Through the referral system, victims of domestic violence presenting with injuries at Help and Shelter would be referred to the Georgetown Hospital for treatment. Medical practitioners at the Georgetown Hospital, for their part, would direct patients whom they know are victims of domestic abuse to Help and Shelter for counselling.

Priority treatment for victims of domestic violence at the hospital is another objective of the system. Kissoon said patients injured as a result of domestic abuse who go to the Georgetown Hospital for treatment complained that they have to wait for long periods before being attended. He said many of the victims felt ashamed because they felt that other patients were staring at them.

According to Kissoon, victims of domestic violence often are already suffering from low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. In the absence of treatment, he said, these patients continue to suffer. Help and Shelter is hoping through this initiative to have a private room at the hospital set aside for such patients to wait, if they cannot be attended to promptly. The activities under the system would also include the training of health workers and doctors to deal with victims of domestic violence.

The project was as a result of a 'Problem Solving for Better Health' programme organised by the Dreyfuss Health Foundation and co-ordinated by the University of Guyana's Faculty of Health Sciences.

Minister of Health, Dr Henry Jeffrey, in his feature address, commended the GPHC for allowing the project to be conducted and challenged private hospitals to follow suit.

The minister opined that the referral system could be launched at clinics and in the primary health care system. If this is done, he said, victims who live outside Georgetown would not have to come to the city for treatment.

He suggested that maybe a mapping exercise could be done to determine which areas had high levels of domestic violence, so as to launch referral systems in those areas.

Khan, who gave the opening remarks also welcomed the initiative, stating that the hospital was prepared to make the referral system work.

The programme was chaired by June Baird and the vote of thanks given by Yvonne Quintin, both volunteers at Help and Shelter.