Jul 24, 2016 News
— prepared to do everything to correct situation at GPHC
“Disappointing”, was how Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, described a recent statement issued by the Guyana Nurses’ Association (GNA) in wake of a move by the administration of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) to send the hospital’s Director of Nursing Services (Matron), Sister Collene Hicks, on administrative leave.
The Matron was sent on administrative leave in order to facilitate an investigation into allegations of insubordination and obstruction of the proper delivery of health care, levelled against her.
A total of 150 medical personnel (both nurses and doctors) had in fact signed a petition calling for the termination of the Matron’s service. This was also brought to the attention of the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) (Ag), Mr. Alan Johnson and the Board of Directors.
The GNA in its statement not only stressed that it was dissatisfied with the decision taken to send the Matron off but it highlighted, too that, “If deaths in other departments are investigated like those in the Maternity Unit the result will shock the nation because wrong diagnosis and poor management contribute to an alarming number of deaths.”
It was also outlined in the GNA statement that “sometimes the knowledge displayed by our professional nurses supersedes that of the doctors…”
But according Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, who only returned yesterday from Paraguay, having attended a joint ministerial meeting on Health and Agriculture, “For the Nursing Association to openly make a public statement that wrong diagnosis and poor management are contributing to an alarming number of deaths that they are aware of and they never brought this to the attention of the authorities, talks a lot about collusion.”
“Is it because this situation is now unfolding that all of this is being revealed?” questioned the Minister. “One would have thought that in the best interest of the Guyanese public any such occurrence would have been brought to the attention of the authorities.
“I find it very disappointing that only now for an entirely different situation, when the Director of Nursing Services, is sent on administrative leave that we are hearing about this, from a professional body.”
Regarding the disclosures of the GNA as “very serious allegations,” the Minister said, “I don’t see why they are ‘up in arms’; why they are expressing such anger and discomfort for a situation that they themselves said in their statement requires a thorough examination of the GPHC when this is exactly what is being done…”
The decision to have the activities of the Matron investigated was recommended by the CEO (Ag) and supported by the Board of Directors of the Hospital which in fact has a representative of the GNA.
And this is the ideal way to go, the Minister added, even as he pointed out that in order to get the most accurate findings it is imperative to remove the person who has a conflict of interest.
The GNA in retaliating against the decision to send the Matron on leave questioned, “Why now do nurses have to be treated as handmaids for doctors, so that they can satisfy their selfish desires?
“And since when do doctors have the authority to make decisions pertaining to nursing management?”
Making reference to the petition signed by the 150 staffers, the GNA statement added, “It is quite obvious that the medical and professional services (staff) who orchestrated this petition have their own hidden agenda.”
But according to Minister Norton yesterday, “I don’t know why they (GNA) are reacting like this at this point…and saying not so pleasant things about doctors. I don’t see why they would say that the doctors have a hidden agenda.”
“I thought we were all in this together as professionals to offer health care to the public and when one is going to say openly that sometimes the knowledge displayed by our professional nurses supersedes that of the doctors once again that is an uncalled for statement,” asserted the Minister.
He continued by pointing out that it is his expectation that doctors and nurses work together as a team. “I am hurt when they say ‘why now nurses have to be treated as handmaids for doctors? That is not the case.
“Doctors treat nurses as professionals and I know this because I am a doctor…we as doctors cannot execute our duties efficiently unless we have the support of nurses. The nurses should not hold the doctors to ransom and the doctors should not hold the nurses to ransom…We have to work together,” stressed the Minister.
He noted that while the nursing body can be dissatisfied, “I would beg that all statements made be done so professionally. Of the 150 professionals who signed the petition, it wasn’t the doctors alone…it involved nurses too; so sending the Matron home is not a situation to appease the doctors. That is not accurate.”
He said that the intent of an investigation, which the GNA has also called for, is to determine whether there is evidence to support the allegations made against the Matron.
“If the investigation is done and there is nothing to support the allegations, they will remain allegations and the Matron will come back to work.”
He, however, observed that over the decades he has worked as a medical professional, it was only under the previous and this administrations, that he has seen the same Matron being accused of insubordination by two Chief Executive Officers.
“She has been refusing to carry out instructions of the CEOs and the law states in no uncertain terms that she is accountable to the CEO of the hospital.”
According to Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr. Carl ‘Max’ Hanoman, the CEO (Ag) at a recent Board meeting disclosed that he had written to the Matron on multiple occasions about her behaviour and she had not followed his instructions.
The Matron was also written to last year by Mr. Michael Khan (CEO), who is currently on administrative leave himself, pending the outcome of a forensic audit of the hospital. Khan has also cited the Matron for “gross insubordination” and had terminated her services, a decision which was subsequently rescinded.
“This alone tells you that there is something that is not in the best interest of the public and that worries me. If I have any insinuation, any indication, any inclination that something is not going in the best interest of the public then I would do everything to correct that situation,” said Minister Norton.
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