May 04, 2017 News
Findings from a visit to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) by the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services (PSCSS) prove that the hospital is under staffed and short on drugs.
Members of the committee that were present on the visit were Dr. Vindhya Persaud, Vishwa Mahadeo, Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, Alister Charlie and Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings.
Other members that were not present on the visit were Indranie Chanderpaul, Minister within the Ministry of Communities Valerie Patterson, and Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman.
Upon speaking with doctors and staff of the GPHC one of the major issues was the shortage of medication available at the facility.
Dr. Persaud said that “Medication is an integral part of delivery of care and as a doctor you go above and beyond your means to provide care, but if the doctors don’t have things at hand, there will be a difficulty.”
Acting Pharmacy Manager Yvonne Bullen said that there has been a shortage for about three weeks to a month in insulin, midazolam, fortum, aspirin, and some hypertension and cardiac medications. When questioned about the process in which medication is ordered, the manager explained that there is a three-month period in which they order, however she was only recently appointed to the position, so three months ago she was not in place to order the drugs.
Ronald Charles, Finance Director of GPHC explained that there were challenges with the previous Pharmacy Manager delivering the orders in a timely manner. He said that the department manager usually orders drugs that are used “as per norm”, or if projected to be needed. A procurement process then follows: if the usual four suppliers do not have the drugs requested, then orders are made at private facilities or overseas. The four major suppliers of the GPHC are IPA, Global, New GPC and Ansa McAL.
Also, Chairperson of the board of directors of GPHC, Kesaundra Alves noted that the GPHC is the main body for distributing medication to Regional hospitals and health care facilities. She explained that there is no proper system in place to show if a person goes to one health centre and uplifts his/her medication, and then goes to another and does the same.
When the team visited the GPHC’s Pharmaceutical bond, Alves said that the bond has only been in use for three days. The bond was not fully stocked with medication.
The committee has requested that hospital records, and procurement process be computerized so as to have records in place. Minister Cummings said that her Ministry is currently collaborating with the E-Government unit to have a computerized system in place.
“We do have some shortages of course. We know where the challenges are…the shortage of drugs that I am seeing here does not affect the quality of care that we are offering to our patients.”
Minister Cummings reiterated that there must be a renewal of primary health care. “We want to stress on the non-pharmacological efforts for our doctors. For instance if you have a headache it could be due to maybe not drinking enough water,” the Minister pointed out.
Meanwhile, Head of the Accident and Emergency Unit Dr. Zulfikar Bux explained that in his area there is need for additional nurses and doctors, mainly because the unit has approximately 200 patients, give or take, on a normal day. However the unit has 18 beds, 16 doctors and four nurses on any given day. He is calling for additional nurses, doctors and more equipment to provide more efficient health care service to citizens.
Speaking to Kaieteur News, Director of Nurses (ag.) Keith Alonzo said that the shortage of nurses is mainly due to the fact that nurses come from the Georgetown School of Nursing. Nurses only graduate twice a year, and do not usually specialize; hence they would have to do so upon starting at the hospital. According to him, an average of 431 more nurses is needed for the facility to “be up to speed”.
Meanwhile, Chairperson Alves said GPHC is currently advertising for nurses.
The Committee recommended that the board collaborate with the Georgetown School of Nursing, so as to employee more nurses, and that they be trained to specialize in the various fields, as well as have a remuneration plan for nurses.
Chief Executive Officer of GPHC Allan Johnson said the University of Guyana will step in to assist with the training of nurses, in special fields. Also the Ministry of Public Health is moving to ensure that nurses are properly trained to fit into the hospitals
The purpose of the visit was for the committee to examine the operational procedures of the GPHC. The team visited the Accident and Emergency unit (A&E), Pediatric, the Surgical out Patient (SOPD), Maternity, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU), the medical laboratory and the Pharmaceutical bond.
Mahadeo reiterated that the ongoing hospital visits are so that problems can be resolved “We are not here to bash anybody, we are here to see how we can come together, so that patient care could be effective and maximized.”
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