Situation at N/A Hospital “back to normal”
…officials believe sewage system was sabotaged
By Leon Suseran
The situation at the New Amsterdam Public Hospital is back to normal. This is according to Chief Executive
Officer (CEO) of the Berbice Regional Health Authority (BRHA), Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo MP.
Two wards of Berbice’s main healthcare facility, the Male Surgical and Maternity, were badly affected by flooding from a malfunctioning sewage system since Sunday. Patients were evacuated from those wards and moved to other safe areas within the hospital complex.
Yesterday, Kaieteur News was given a tour of the facility by Dr. Mahadeo; Medical Superintendent of the Hospital, Dr. Artie Sharma and CEO of the N/A Hospital, Mr. Alan Johnson. The two wards in question had been cleaned, sanitized and prepared for immediate occupancy by patients by yesterday afternoon. The washroom facilities were also cleaned and sanitized.
“The system that is taking the water from the wards to the tanks was blocked up. We have cleaned it and cleared it up and things are back to normal. We have done the final cleaning and sterilization of the wards, so the patients will be moving in back by this (yesterday) afternoon,” he reiterated.
Mahadeo did not deny there was flooding.
“Yes, water overflowed and you had some water in the wards. We had some flooding and the truth of the matter remains that the staff did what they could have done for the benefit of the patients, taking into consideration the constraints… and we utilized empty spaces in the other wards—that’s the truth—and we still continued with delivering healthcare to patients, babies and managing male patients who were moved, and although there were constraints, we still managed to do our work, and now that we have our space again, we will be able to do it better.”
It was pointed out that the sewage malfunction was suspected to be sabotage since a plethora of foreign objects was found stuffed into the sewage pipes. Dr. Mahadeo stated that long plastic bags used to store sanitary cups were found with several ‘chubby’ bottles inside, stuffed into the pipes, blocking the flow of sewage.
The officials believe that these were intentional attempts to shut down the facility and render it useless to the public. Napkins, plastic bags, plastic bottles, sanitary napkins among other objects were found stuffed into the sewage pipes which further aggravated the volatile situation.
“We have provision in the washroom—you can verify—containers provided by Pestex for the females to put in their napkins and waste-bins to collect other rubbish, so we are hoping with this experience, that the general public will cooperate with us and not throw things in the system that would block up the system.”
The hospital’s sewage system was designed by the Japanese firm, Kitano Construction (which built the hospital) and consists of an underground network of pipes.
Dr. Mahadeo was regretful of the time it took to get the problem rectified but noted that due to the underground pipe system it was “a bit difficult to get it done in a short time”.
The CEO believes that if this trend continues whereby the system continues to be blocked by large objects, an option is to run the sewage pipes above ground, but this, he noted, might affect movement.
The BRHA CEO stated that although it was a challenging situation, “we managed and the staff effectively managed to move patients around without really compromising the volume of patients. They managed to move the patients into the different wards and I think that with the constraints, they did a good job. I want to thank them and I am hoping to have the cooperation of the patients, and users of the facility and of the staff to prevent any such occurrence again.”
Yesterday, too, the Regional Chairman of Region 6 and the Regional Executive Officer were seen touring the facility and ensuring things were back to normal. Steps are being taken to deal with the outflows and “to see if we can adapt something from the system to prevent a recurrence or to minimize the action of whatever might be happening, if we have such an occurrence again”.
“All the systems have been cleared and we are now trying to police the system better,” Dr. Mahadeo said. He further stated that no patient was sent home by any doctor of the institution as a result of the flooding, save for three mothers who delivered babies and were discharged normally.
As for allegations about staff being forced to work under unhealthy conditions to clean up wards, he stated that the cleaning staff was involved in doing this and they were given all the necessary tools.