Carol Joseph has resigned from her post as a Councillor on the Region Five Democratic Council.
While her letter to the Council did not cite a reason for the resignation, it does follow the disturbing allegation of her becoming addicted to a pain killing medication, and using her position to have frequent access to injections at the Fort Wellington Hospital.
It was Nurse Sherilyn Marks who, over the course of several months, was tasked with administering the injections.
After realising that the APNU-aligned Councillor is receiving doses of Pethidine, more frequent than required, the nurse lodged a complaint with health authorities, both at the level of Central Government, and the regional department.
After no action was taken, Marks followed up with another correspondence in December 2016. Her persistence to have the issue addressed was based on the fear of being held liable for not administering the doses as prescribed by the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substance (Control) Act of Guyana.
Soon enough, 2016 turned to 2017 and Marks’s concerns were still not addressed. Having exhausted all other avenues, Marks decided to highlight her plight via a letter to the press.
After the piece she penned was published, the young woman received a letter from the Regional Health Office, saying that she was being transferred from the Fort Wellington Hospital to the Bath/Experiment Health Centre, effective yesterday, April 20, 2017.
The letter sought to inform Marks that her transfer was done “in an effort to establish good vaccination coverage within this catchment area.”
Contacted by this newspaper, Marks was not very open to speaking.
“I’m being treated like I somehow went against protocol. Everybody coming towards me right now,” she said.
Marks spoke of having had a meeting with Ministry of Health officials yesterday, but refused to give details as to what was discussed.
“I really don’t have anybody backing me,” she added.
It was the Coalition Government that had been pushing for Protected Disclosure / Whistle Blower Legislation, intended to protect individuals who disclose acts of corruption or other wrongdoings occurring in the country. But despite all the initial enthusiasm, the document has still not been presented to the National Assembly.
In the meantime, the transfer of Nurse Marks is being seen by many, including Region Five Chairman, Vickchand Ramphal, as an act to target and victimise a whistleblower.
Ramphal told this newspaper yesterday, that he was made aware of Marks’s initial complaint, but was awaiting action by higher authorities like the Ministry of Public Health.
The Chairman said, too, that he was informed about the decision to transfer Marks, but was not privy to the reason behind the decision.
“I think that an investigation needs to be launched…I am going to speak with the Regional Executive Offer to see what is happening,” Ramphal said.
Meanwhile, in a letter to this newspaper, People’s Progressive Party Civic Member of Parliament, Harry Gill, said that while other patients are only given a maximum dose of 50mg of Pethidine, the APNU-AFC Councillor is injected with 100mg of Pethidine.
“This happened almost every day since September of 2016,” Gill said.
“Sometimes Joseph received 100mg of Pethidine during the day, and returns later in the evening for a second high,” he added.
Records, as seen by this publication, confirm this to be true.
Meanwhile, contacted for a response on the entire issue, Ovid Morrison, the Regional Executive Officer, questioned Gill’s qualifications to determine how much medication a patient should or should not get.
“The same question can be asked of Staff Nurse/Midwife. On what professional basis did she arrive at the conclusion that a patient with a known condition was getting more medication than required?
What are her qualifications which allow her to pronounce on these matters?” Morrison asked.
He went further to enquire if both Gill and Nurse Marks are “bedevilled by a desire to be obnoxious.”
Morrison said that a deeper investigation “into the motives behind the scurrilous allegations made by Ms. Marks and regurgitated by MP Gill, will unearth some very personal reasons for their bizarre attempts to scandalize the highly qualified and competent doctors who make up the Staff of the FWCH.”
Nonetheless, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Shamdeo Persaud told this newspaper yesterday, that enquiries have begun into the complaints.
“We are currently in the process of taking statements from everyone involved.”
The CMO maintained that prescribing doses of medication that are beyond what is required is unethical, and can result in severe sanctions for medical malpractice.
As of late last night, Joseph said that the deterioration of her health is the reason behind her resignation.
“Nothing else,” she added.
The former councillor declined to comment on the drug addiction allegations, saying that she was pursuing legal action against those trying to “slander” her reputation.
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