Nurses call for armed guards at NA hospital

By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
July 28, 2001

Employees of the New Amsterdam hospital are calling for armed guards to be placed at the entrances of the institution following an attack last Tuesday by an angry group of visitors on nurses at the Accident and Emergency Department (A&E).

The nurses in the Department were attacked following the death of 11-year-old Andrew Wong, at the institution. The child was earlier hit by a motor vehicle on the Number Two Village road after the driver reportedly suffered a heart attack. Both were rushed to the A&E department of the hospital.

The boy's relatives on learning of his death went berserk and besieged the nurses in the department, where the driver was also receiving medical attention. The nurses and the driver were eventually forced to flee the department and seek refuge in another section of the institution. The guards at the institution were unable to control the situation and the police had to be summoned to restore order but not before the angry relatives had broken two windowpanes of the dispensary where the driver had sought refuge.

Following the incident the nurses refused to return to work until adequate security measures were put in place including armed guards. Hospital Administrator, Audrey Field, said on Tuesday afternoon that mechanisms had already been put in place to have armed security guards at the outpatient department from Wednesday, between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm. However, up to Thursday, the only additional security visible at the institution was an unarmed guard attached to RK Security Firm. The employees are calling for security at the institution to be beefed-up to ensure that such incidents do not re-occur in the future.

The 11-year-old boy of Number Two Village was reportedly on his way to the shop when he was hit by the car in which two persons were travelling, including the driver who hails from Port Mourant. The vehicle, which was travelling towards New Amsterdam from the Corentyne, ran into a parked tractor after hitting Wong. Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) officials who visited the hospital expressed concern over the security arrangements at the institution and also called for adequate protection for employees following the attack. The nurses, according to one employee, were providing a vital service to the community and should not be exposed to such attacks and should be adequately protected.