$18M elevator commissioned at public hospital's Maternity Unit By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
November 23, 2001

Conceived during 1997/98, Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy's "baby," an $18 million elevator, was yesterday commissioned in the Maternity Ward of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.

The Otis Hydraulic Lift, which was installed by Demerara Distillers Ltd (DDL), is expected to be of tremendous assistance to the patients in that ward. The elevator would not be for use by the general public only patients and workers in the hospital.

Senior Deputy Sister of the ward, Comach Mohamed, noted that in the past it was hard for the patients to climb the stairway and also for workers in the hospital who had to carry equipment and food into the ward. She said that they were very pleased with the installation of the elevator.

Giving a background to the facility, which was described as Dr Ramsammy's baby, Director of Facilities Management, Parmanand Samaroo, said that the elevator project was conceptualized during the rehabilitation phase of the maternity and gynaecology building during 1998/1999. The contract was agreed and awarded to DDL last year.

According to Samaroo, the elevator and all other associated components were imported from France and it was estimated that it would have been transported within four months. However, there were delays due to unforeseen problems.

The elevator arrived at the hospital on July 31 and installation commenced three days later. Approximately two months after, the installation process was completed. The elevator can carry 21 passengers with a total weight capacity of 3,520 pounds.

There have been fears that if there was a power outage, patients who might be using the facility at the time would be stranded. But Samaroo put this fear to rest when questioned by Stabroek News, stating the elevator could also be operated manually. He also pointed out that once a power outage occurred, the hospital's back-up system would kick-in after 160 seconds.

Delivering the feature address, Ramsammy went down memory lane disclosing that one of the very first projects he undertook when he became chairman of the GPHC Board was to complete the rehabilitation of the Maternity Ward, which had been ongoing for several years. Upon the completion it was recognised that there was need for an elevator and the minister said he had promised that they would work very hard to find the money to purchase one. According to the minister, they fought for a year for money to purchase and install the elevator and it took another year after the money was sourced before steps could be taken for the installation.

Speaking about the administration of the hospital, Ramsammy acknowledged that there were many things that were wrong, but noted that there were as many good intentions. He said that a lot of work had to be done on improving efficiency. "As chairman of the board I have never shied away from admitting our inadequacies. We have many inadequacies, but over the years these inadequacies have become fewer and fewer," the minister said. "We are getting better at what we do."

The minister opined that while mistakes had been made, the general public had the wrong impression because in many instances people could do better. However, he said, there was a hard-working staff at the hospital.

Outlining how the hospital has improved, the minister cited the example of the maternity ward. He said that in the early 90s the hospital was averaging over 20 maternal deaths to 10,000 deliveries. But by 1999, the figure went down to eight and went up by two last year. This year they were projecting fewer than ten. The minister said that he was proud of the hospital's achievements but added that it still had a far way to go.

Noting the importance of providing information to patients and their families, Ramsammy disclosed that about two and a half years ago he said that a department should be opened at the hospital where people could go when they have difficulties.

He said that the present Chief Executive Officer, Michael Khan, has informed him that such a department will be available from next month.

A patient cut the ribbon to officially to launch the elevator service'.