Police outpost planned at Georgetown Hospital
-$30M psychiatric ward underway

Stabroek News
November 5, 1999

At its monthly press conference held yesterday the Management Committee of the Georgetown Hospital (PHG) announced that it will set up a police outpost at the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department to "keep order". Other initiatives include surprise visits by administrators to different wards and demolition of the old Paediatric ward to be replaced by a $30 million psychiatric facility.

Chief Executive Officer of PHG, George L. Munroe, said that the establishment of the police outpost would help to give nurses a better sense of security. He noted that 120 to 130 patients visit the A&E every morning and many of these had afflictions that were non-life threatening. He stressed that in this section, patients were treated not in the order they arrive but according to the seriousness of their conditions, which can lead to misunderstandings. The design of the outpost will make it apparent that police are present and it is expected that the police will be able to issue reports at the location.

Munroe revealed that unannounced inspections of various wards have been conducted over the last month by members of the administration including Director of Medical Services, Dr Madan Rambarran and the Matron to observe the professionalism and efficiency of the nurses and to talk with patients about their treatment. This, Munroe said, was all part of making the hospital more patient friendly.

The dismantling of the old paediatric ward began last Friday and Stabroek News observed much of the wood from the building being thrown over the fence for public consumption. Munroe stated that the contractor had purchased the old structure as part of the contract and the disposal of the wood was his responsibility.

Dr Rambarran acknowledged the paucity of psychiatrists and nurses trained to work with the mentally ill but remarked that the hospital must start somewhere in addressing the problem and the establishment of the ward was a step in that direction.

Munroe said that a recent report from a foreign consultant, which was submitted to the board had recommended two options in terms of cost recovery; the first indicated a policy to charge user fees for some services "dependent on the public's willingness to pay"; the second looked at health care as a public charge which cannot be governed by economics. Munroe stressed that any concept of user fees was unacceptable and that the board "will be going for free service" and "nobody will be turned away from any service because of their inability to pay." Munroe did say that excess capacity in laundry or laboratory facilities or lack of capacity in other subsidiary services could allow for, or demand contracting in or contracting out, but that these moves at cost recovery would in no way result in a charge to the public. (William Walker)

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