Georgetown hospital $41M in-patient ward unveiled
600-bed structure next in line

By Bebe Buksh
Stabroek News
September 16, 2000

A government-funded $41 million, three-storey building to accommodate 150 to 200 in-patients and a Psychiatric Clinic was commissioned yesterday in the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) compound.

GPHC Chairman, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, told reporters that the double-ward, in-patient section will be housed in the middle and top flats, while the Psychiatric Clinic, headed by Dr Bhiro Harry will be downstairs. But he noted that this arrangement will only be for two years until a new medical in-patient building was erected.

Dr Ramsammy said the services to be offered there, free of charge, should begin some time next week after installation of comfort measures such as ceiling fans. He also said that the Ministry of Health had already purchased 100 beds to be placed in the building.

He said that although the building was designed for a Psychiatric Clinic, because the old in-patient medical wards were in poor shape, patients will be relocated to the new building temporarily.

Dr Ramsammy revealed that demolition of the old Accident and Emergency (A&E) Unit will begin next week for the establishment of a new three-storey, in-patient, 600-bed ward linked to the Ambulatory Care Unit. This, according to him, is intended to transfer patients from the operating room, without open-air exposure as currently exists, into the wards. The proposed cost of this project is US$2.5 million. Upon completion of this ward, the wards above the Psychiatric Clinic will be used to house 50 psychiatric in-patients, 25 on each floor.

In addition, all buildings in the medical block will also be demolished. In their place, a nurses' hostel, medical school and training facilities for hospital staff will be erected, Dr Ramsammy said. The current medical block also houses the dental and ENT clinics and medical out-patients' department among other services.

And, President Bharrat Jagdeo during the formal ceremony to open the new Psychiatric Clinic, spoke of his dissatisfaction with the quality of service provided by private hospitals in the country. He pointed out that the quality of delivery did not match the exorbitant commercial rates patients pay for health care at private hospitals.

He said he hoped the Ministry of Health would increase its regulatory role in helping to raise standards in service delivery by both private and public health care institutions.

As for the vision of the GPHC, President Jagdeo wants this to be in line with government's overall thrust for its own health care delivery.

Moreover, he called for a shift in the present system to that of offering more primary health care and urged the promotion of preventative medicine rather than curative treatment, a theme always emphasised by Health Minister, Dr Henry Jeffrey.

Outlining his own ideas of what he would like to see in a reformed health sector, Jagdeo said training, education and private-public sector cooperation were necessary for this to be achieved.

Government is currently perusing a plan for establishing four regional health authorities in the country, and Jagdeo said that more autonomous agencies in the health care arena should enable the Ministry of Health to play a policy role rather than getting into the management of health care institutions.

While recognising that current salaries for health care workers were below par, he said his government was constrained by "the economic reality" of paying 50% of revenues annually to service overseas debts and 40% for wages and salaries. Never-theless, he reiterated his commitment to fulfilling the people's needs in five areas: education, health, water, housing and job creation.

Also attending the ceremony were members of the donor community, diplomatic corps and government functionaries.

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