By Sharmain Cornette
The Ministry of Health is prepared to take legal action against a ‘so called’ professional nursing school which, according to complaints, may be swindling unsuspecting clients out of thousands of dollars.
Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy made this disclosure yesterday when he hosted a press conference at the Health Ministry’s Brickdam headquarters.
According to the Minister, the institution which is called the Inter-American Nursing School is located at North Road and Alexander Street, Georgetown, and promotes itself as a nursing and health care provider school.
It has also been promoted on the basis that it has been accredited by the Ministry of Health, Dr Ramsammy disclosed. “I want to make it clear that we have not accredited any institution by the name of Inter-American Nursing School.”
The Health Minister added that the school seems to be boosting its existence by erroneously informing its students and potential students that, once they graduate, their certificates will be recognised by the Guyana Nursing Council and can be used as admission to the three local nursing schools – the Georgetown School of Nursing, the New Amsterdam Nursing School and the Charles Rosa Nursing School at Linden.
According to the Minister, the nursing schools have very specific and very rigid requirements for admission. He said that qualifications for those schools are not the same as those for the Inter-American institution.
“Anyone who thinks they will attend the school and use whatever certificates they have to meet the requirements for admission into our nursing schools, I want to say at this point that it is not one of the criteria that we utilise in assessing students’ qualifications for admission,” the Minister emphasised.
“I want to make it quite clear, also, because it appears as though the school is giving the impression that, should a student graduate, that student will be able to meet requirements for recruitment as health care workers in the United States.”
Dr Ramsammy said that there is recruitment of health care workers by the US as well as by other countries that are both developing and developed. Nurses trained at the three state-run nursing schools are among those health workers that are being recruited.
“As far as I know, only the nurses that meet the Guyana Nursing School qualification and that of the University of Guyana would be allowed recruitment to international jobs.”
According to the Minister, he first learnt of the unethical situation when young female students of the school filed complaints with the Health Ministry. The Minister disclosed that, from information that he has received, the institution has plans to open another branch in Berbice.
“The complaints have come mostly from Berbice. They (school officials) have got the young people to pay some money as some pre-registration exercise, and apparently some young ladies have paid as much as $20,000.”
“They only complained after classes did not start and they have been told many things why it has not started. They have attempted to get back their monies and they are unable to do so,” the Minister relayed.
Another level of complaint, according to the Minister, is that some of the students who would have completed supposedly foundation courses in Georgetown and those who are now trying to register have now become cognizant that their time at the school does not enhance their ability to get into a formal programme either at UG or at the nursing schools.
“It was represented to them that, once they graduate from these programmes, they would have met the requirements for admission into the nursing schools; and the impression given to them is that those arrangements were made with the Ministry of Health.”
Minister Ramsammy said it is his understanding that the officials involved in the operation of the institution are intelligent people who are looking to improve their chances of getting into a health programme.
But, according to him, they have been able to build their credibility by developing the habit of just showing up at functions where senior health officials are in attendance.
“It is a skilful exercise of giving people an impression; whether it is telling people right out that we have this arrangement, or whether they skilfully get people to believe that, I can’t say, but a lot of people believe them.”
And while the Ministry of Health does not have the authority to stop persons from starting such institutions, Minister Ramsammy said, his ministry can nevertheless advise people about what they are paying for.
Nonetheless, the Ministry will, in this regard, be holding a meeting next week with a number of operators of nursing schools, “and we will make it very clear that we will take legal action to prevent these schools from misrepresenting themselves to people,” the Minister asserted.
The Minister also warned: “I would present some of the complaints to the police, because money has been taken from people in what can be considered as outright fraud…I am giving notice today…”
The Minister said that he is eagerly awaiting the accreditation system that is set to be put in place by the Education Ministry.
And, according to Dr Ramsammy, “I would urge that the process be accelerated because there are too many of these so-called professional schools that are going up, and many young Guyanese are being duped.”
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