Hospital report should lead to improvements

Stabroek News
July 1, 2000

A report on an inspection of the Georgetown Public Hospital has strongly criticised the administration of the hospital, its physical structure and the services it provides. Of the 70-odd areas inspected, perhaps only three were deemed satisfactory.

Author of the report and head of the Inspection Team, Dr Vibart Shury, a former administrator of the hospital, claimed that the service at the institution had not improved since he vacated that post two years ago. Current Chairman of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation Board, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, has refuted this, stating that there had been improvements and that these were ongoing.

And Dr Ramsammy is correct. The hospital's infrastructure has improved. A walk through the complex will reveal a new Maternity wing, the National Blood Transfusion Service housed in a new building, a new mortuary and construction underway on a new block of wards.

But there has also been a degeneration in physical conditions in other areas which has reduced these improvements to the placing of a band aid on a festering sore. Stories of patients being subjected to appalling conditions at the hospital abound. And not only is there a general breakdown in standards, but concomitant with this is the don't-care attitude of staff, who, in many areas, work under conditions unfit for humans.

The hospital was recently corporatised, a move which the Ministry of Health had said would ultimately result in the creation of a superior medical institution. But the Ministry, though well-intentioned, is guilty here of putting the cart before the horse. The inspection of the Georgetown hospital ought to have been done before it was corporatised. This would have given its new managers a clear idea of what they were up against and the areas in which urgent action was needed. A perusal of the report reveals that certain sections of the hospital complex were omitted. Among these are the Infectious Diseases Laboratory, the Genito-Urinary Medicine Clinic, the Malaria and Filaria Clinics, the Blood Bank and the mortuary. Were these areas inspected and if not, why not?

Then there is the question of the selection of the inspection team. There is no doubt, when one reads the report, that a thorough job was done on the areas inspected. But the objectivity of the team members could be questioned. Except for Dr Dennison Davis, Director of Standards and Technical Services, in the Ministry of Health, whose inclusion in the team was imperative, the others were current and former employees of the hospital. The Ministry of Health should have contracted inspectors from other areas.

Nevertheless the hospital has been inspected, its flaws revealed and recommendations for correcting these have been made. The efforts of all concerned must now be directed to remedying these inadequacies. It has been suggested that a second inspection be undertaken in six months time. It is hoped that by then the list of ills would have shortened.

Other hospitals are to be inspected and this is welcome. Monitoring of hospitals, both public and private is provided for under the Hospitals Act. To what extent this was being done is not known. However, the other institutions now have an opportunity to put their houses in order before inspection. Guyanese can also now look forward to an overall improvement in medical care in the future which will come with constant monitoring, inspection and the introduction of penalties.

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