Dec 15, 2016 News
The continuance of the services of the Ms. Collene Hicks as Director of Nursing Services (Matron) at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) will likely come to an end in the very near future. This possible development has been linked to a recommendation that has been made by a Committee appointed to investigate allegations levelled against Hicks in her professional capacity.
The report was just last week handed over to Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, who has since reviewed the findings and recommendations made by the Committee.
According to Minister Norton, a total of 52 employees of the GPHC were required to testify during the course of the investigation which spanned just over a period of one month. The Committee also examined various correspondence, the Minister informed yesterday.
“The Commission is unanimous in its view that the continued engagement of Ms. Collene Hicks in her capacity as Director of Nursing Services would not be in the best interest of the GPHC,” said Minister Norton as he underscored that the recommendations of the Committee will “most likely” be implemented.
However, the findings are yet to be deliberated at the level of Cabinet where it is expected that an ultimate decision on the way forward will be made.
The members of the investigating Committee included Mr. Reginald Brotherson, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Public Service within the Ministry of the Presidency; former GPSU General Secretary turned Attorney-at-law, Chandrawattie Persaud, the Chairperson; Ms. Laurelle Daw, Director of Nursing Service at the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital for the past seven years; Dr. Anwar Hussain who has racked-up decades of service at the GPHC and former Auditor General, Mr. Anand Goolsarran.
All of the members, with the exception of Goolsarran, were present on hand Friday to hand over the report to Minister Norton in his office.
Hicks was sent on administrative leave in July to facilitate the investigation which commenced in earnest in October.
The Committee was tasked with assessing the truthfulness of the allegations or complaints and make determinations as to whether these have been injurious or destructive to the effective and efficient delivery of the health care delivered at the GPHC.
The Committee was guided by Terms of Reference which required that it compile, through interviews with staff of the hospital, including doctors and nurses or through investigations, a list of allegations or complaints of displeasure or misconduct against the Director of Nursing Services.
Among other things, the COI was expected to specifically examine the promotion of nurses under the Director of Nursing Services to determine whether these were based on merit. Added to this, the Commission was tasked with examining the relationship between the Director of Nursing Services and the doctors of the institution to ascertain if this affected the delivery of health care at the hospital.
The investigation process however was not without some controversy.
Even before the process had commenced the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), which has been representing Hicks’ interest, said that it had no confidence in the Committee or the findings it was likely to produce. This was in light of its belief that the Committee consisted of individuals who had close links to the hospital. It has moreover concluded that the association of some of the members of the Committee could influence the conduct of the inquiry making it prejudicial against the subject of the inquiry.
In this regard, the Union had informed that although it had sent multiple letters to the Board Chairman, Dr. Carl ‘Max’ Hanoman, the Board went ahead with the selected Committee without considering its concerns. But Dr. Hanoman had insisted that the Board, which is now dissolved, had consulted with the Union and even delayed the investigation so that it could nominate a member to the Committee. The Union had nominated Brotherson to be a part of the investigating committee.
Commenting on reports of the concerns raised by the GPSU, Minister Norton had last month said that “if we are going to suspend somebody and investigate them we must do it as efficiently as possible.”
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