Quality Medical Service and optimized patient care will have to be the watch phrases governing the operations of community health centres. This mandate was this week vocalized by Public Health Minister, Ms. Volda Lawrence, as she rebranded health centres as facilities that must respond to the health needs of communities.
The Minister, however, asserted that this cannot be a one-sided affair. As such, she demands a reciprocal response from beneficiaries.
“Our vision is that you will begin to consider visits to the clinic as part of your routine and incorporate them on your (daily) agenda,” said Minister Lawrence, who was at the time speaking at the commissioning ceremony for the refurbished Albouystown, Georgetown health centre.
Minister Lawrence said that a triple function by health centres signals “a new approach” to wellness at the micro level in the public health sector. She said the novel move will embrace a fixed focus on the family and will be backed up with visits by nurses to the communities at least three times per year.
She believes it is critical for community centres to offer a wider array of services for residents to help relieve the burden currently faced by the country’s sole referral institution, the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC].
Diversified services by community centres will also affect community perception leading to better comfort and confidence, the Minister has predicted.
“It is envisioned that residents will become more comfortable and confident since their health needs will be adequately met (and) they will be able to access a service that is efficient, reliable and of a high quality. As a consequence, the onus that the GPHC bears presently of providing medical service to residents from outlying communities will be greatly reduced.”
The 47-year old Albouystown Municipal Health Centre will be among the first to exhibit Minister Lawrence’s ‘new approach’.
Some 300 children and scores of pregnant women will benefit from the facility, Councillor Malcolm Ferreira said. Dr. Suzette Reynolds is the community physician.
Both Ferreira and Georgetown Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green, reiterated the dire financial position of the municipality, which is owed some $500M in outstanding taxes by citizens. As such, it was not small challenge to complete the health centre.
Minister Lawrence told Albouystown residents that the rehabilitated facility fulfils the vision of her Public Health Ministry “to establish and refurbish existing Health Centres in our communities, so that residents can be accommodated in their areas and will not have to traverse long distances and wait for long hours for service at the GPHC.”
The Albouystown Community Health Centre was established under the stewardship of former Georgetown Mayor Mr. Hamilton Green in 1970. Green was the then-Minister of Health in the Forbes Burnham PNC government.
“Unfortunately, the service had to be discontinued because of the unhealthy condition of the building,” Lawrence recalled.
As a model for what will be the new norm in the community health sector, the Albouystown facility will not focus exclusively on providing maternal and child care service, but will also treat chronic disease patients and offer counselling services.
Beneficiaries will also have daily outpatients services; daily dressings of wounds; minor suturing; daily VCT (voluntary counseling and testing for HIV), VIA (visual inspection of the cervix with acetic acid) and dental health services which have been proposed for once every quarter, Minister Lawrence announced.
The facility also has in place a phlebotomist room, an immunization room, two doctors’ rooms, a dressing room, a pharmacy, a staff room and an HIV testing room.
Minister Lawrence has promised to help the Health Centre acquire air conditioning units, a refrigerator, a pharmacist and other outstanding necessities.
Under the public health sector’s new approach “we hope to keep pace with the health status of our patients, so that in the event of a referral, we can have current medical records that can be forwarded,” the Minister explained.
“It is our hope too that residents will learn to appreciate how essential it is to be vigilant about one’s health and the importance of accessing the services for a regular check-up and not waiting until the very last moment when the situation may be out of control,” she counselled.
In-house residents of the Dharm Shala will also benefit from the newly refurbished facility.
“We all know of the benevolent work that the Ramsaroops have been doing over the years in Guyana, and it is only fitting for the Clinic to reach out and use its medical service and expertise to help take care of the vulnerable in this institution,” Minister Lawrence said.
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