Months after a Commission of Inquiry [COI] recommended her termination, the administration
of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC] has decided to part ways with its substantive Director of Nursing Services [Matron], Ms. Collene Hicks.
This development was yesterday confirmed by the hospital’s acting Chief Executive Officer [CEO], Brigadier (R’td) George Lewis.
Brigadier (R’td) Lewis was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer [DCEO] at the GPHC about one week ago. He was however tasked with acting in the capacity of CEO following the removal of Allan Johnson from that position on Friday. Hicks’ termination also became effective on the same date, according to Brigadier Lewis.
Acting on the recommendations of the COI to terminate Hicks is among one of the first significant actions taken by Brigadier Lewis in the capacity of CEO (Ag). This move comes more than five months after the completion of the COI.
Hicks was sent on administrative leave in July 2016 to facilitate the investigation which commenced in earnest in October of that year.
The COI, which was conducted to determine whether there was any truth to allegations that Hicks’ operation compromised the proper delivery of health care at the hospital, was led by a trained nurse and Attorney-at-Law, Ms. Chandrawattie Persaud.
The other members of the Commission included Mr. Reginald Brotherson, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Public Service within the Ministry of the Presidency; 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.
The members of the Commission in December last year handed over their report to then Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton.
Dr. Norton, commenting on the findings of the COI said, “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.”
Among other things, it was detailed in the report that there is conclusive evidence that the Director of Nursing Services routinely breached protocols and written agreements, including the failure to follow instructions. Several examples have been cited in the report to support the allegations of these breaches.
”Of particular note is a letter from the Chief Executive Officer to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Health, outlining the acts of insubordination on the part of the [Nursing] Director. This resulted in the termination of her services. This decision was put on hold following the intervention of the Guyana Public Service Union and a member of the GPHC Board,” the report stated.
The members of the COI said that it unanimously derived its decision that Hicks should be terminated from the testimonies as well as from examination of various pieces of correspondence.
However, Hicks continued to receive a monthly salary even as two others acted in the position that she had left.
An official had described the decision to retain the Matron as “A waste of taxpayers’ money.” “How is it that you can have so many people being paid for the same position, this makes absolutely no sense…all this money could be better used at the hospital to improve patient care,” said the official who had expressed suspicion that there was a deliberate ploy afoot to disregard the findings of the COI and quietly reinstate the Matron.
Brigadier (R’td) Lewis has however put concerns in this regard to rest with the move to terminate Hicks.
Attempts (yesterday) to contact Hicks and the Guyana Public Service Union [GPSU], which has been representing her, were futile. However, this publication has been reliably informed that Hicks will not take the action taken against her lightly.
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