By Enid Joaquin.
The Upper Demerara Hospital better known as the Wismar Hospital is currently being rehabilitated to the tune of some $13.5M. It is expected to offer more services upon completion.
Medical Superintendent, Dr. Steve Marks, said that assessments for needed infrastructural works were carried out earlier this year.
According to Marks, the current rehabilitation was made possible through the 2018 budgetary allocation to Region Ten. Some $3.4B considered to be the largest budgetary allocation to date, was approved for the Region this year.
The Regional Health Services would reportedly benefit from $663.03M of that amount.
Dr. Marks said that the rehabilitative works include repairs, painting, tiling, installation of new ceilings and general roof work, and the installation of air conditioning units and ceiling fans.
The ten-week project, which is on target, is currently in its third week, Marks said.
“When all the work is completed, we would be opening up back the Maternity Ward, the casualty ward—The Female Ward is already open. The Labour Room would be reopened and soon we would like to open back the Paediatric Ward too. These are just some of the projects and plans that we have for the first six months of the year.”
Dr. Marks said that the Hospital, which is a District Hospital, is functioning way below its category or level.
“So we have to bring it back to that level, where it could be seen or viewed as a District Hospital, and the service, which is required of a district hospital is provided to the public.”
Marks added that most of the services that are presently available at the Mackenzie Hospital would be available at the Wismar Hospital, upon completion of the rehabilitative works.
The Wismar Hospital was established to serve residents on the West Bank of the Demerara River.
Officially referred to as the Upper Demerara Hospital, its establishment was launched with the Jaycees of Mackenzie making the first contribution of $30,000.
The group had reportedly accumulated the money through fundraising activities-namely the Mackenzie Carnival- the precursor celebration to Mashramani.
Employees of the Demerara Bauxite Company (DEMBA) also contributed significantly towards its building, both in terms of financial donations and skilled labour.
The Jaycees, however, later challenged the Government of the day–the PNC– to provide the additional funds needed for completion of the project.
Both the Wismar facility and its sister institution at Mackenzie initially came under the purview of DEMBA. The only difference was that any medical intervention at the Mackenzie facility had to be paid for while similar services at Wismar were free.
However, with the nationalization of DEMBA, both institutions were debundled.
Later, the Ministry of Health took over the responsibility for the operations of the two facilities.
Subsequently, the Mackenzie Hospital commenced free medical care in 1976, which resulted in drastic reduction in patients seeking health care at Wismar. The later establishment of an HIV Unit along with a Tuberculosis Clinic would see a further decline in patients seeking medical intervention there.
This was because of the stigma associated with these two communicable diseases.
Regional Executive Officer of Region Ten Orrin Gordon said that the current rehabilitation to the hospital would only be to the most critical areas.
“We needed almost three times that amount to fix everything, but as it is, we’re doing the most critical now and then next year and thereafter we could tackle the rest”.
Gordon acknowledged that although the Region would assist with small projects around the facility, they don’t have all the resources, to take care of the major issues.
As regards the current works, Gordon said that he did receive a progress report from Dr. Marks, but did not get a percentage, as to how much of the work was actually being undertaken.
He further pointed out that there have been reports of some discrepancies in the quality of materials being supplied as against what was required.
“This is something that we have to look into, because at the end of the day, we need value for money,” Gordon emphasized.
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