During the Budget Debate, it was announced that the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) will be establishing a modern trauma center. It is believed that China will be approached for funding to construct this new centre.
Those making these decisions need to pay an undercover visit to the hospital before undertaking such a venture. Then they will understand why there is no need for a new trauma unit.
Going to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Unit of that hospital is in itself a traumatic experience and therefore it may have been much better for the government to invest in improving that unit rather than building another unit which will result in even more trauma for those seeking medical attention.
The A&E Unit is the trauma unit of the country’s main referral hospital, the GPHC is in need of better systems and better management. There is no need for any new modern unit.
The same problems experienced by the A&E will affect the new unit and therefore it makes no sense investing in a new unit when the monies can be used to fix the existing one.
The GPHC lacks the managerial capability to handle the number of patients that it receives. But even if there were fewer patients, there would still be a problem.
The public health service has not yet learnt how to provide efficient customer care. The public service is not organized to place the customer first.
The majority of public servants believe that they are doing the public a favor and that the public has to put up or shut up with whatever lousy service is offered.
Building new units will not make a difference. Unless there is an improvement in the management at the hospital and unless there is a change in the attitude of persons providing health care in Guyana, the situation is not going to change.
If you want to sit on a bench for hours and wait before you receive treatment, go to the Accident and Emergency Unit. You will be triaged and unless you are bleeding to death or have multiple stab wounds or some of your limbs are missing or you suffer a massive heart attack or stroke, it is only then that you can count on immediate treatment. And even then you may still have to wait.
There have been horror stories about the GPHC. Things have not improved at that institution. If anything, it is gotten worse.
This column had advised before that if you are sick and can afford it, head to a private hospital. Do not put your life at risk by going to the GPHC A&E Unit. You may live to regret it.
The Out Patient Unit of the GPHC is another nightmare. It cannot handle the amount of patients which turn up there for treatment each day.
Half of those patients are believed to be persons who do not wish to go to work for a few days and are seeking a medical to excuse their absence.
But one of the main problems for the excessive numbers of persons seeking treatment is that the public simply does not have confidence in the community health centers in rural areas and therefore many of them flock to the GPHC seeking treatment for non-life threatening ailments.
The numbers, however, can be managed. Every problem has a solution, once there is the will to solve the problem.
What is needed at the GPHC is a better system. If 300 patients visit the Out Patient Clinic each day, five or six doctors cannot suffice because it would result in long waiting persons.
The five or six doctors may eventually see everybody but the objective should be to shorten the waiting time and for that the number of doctors needs to be tripled because most people arrive between 7 am and 10 am.
This column has long touted the need for a 24-hour Outdoor Clinic located next to the A&E Unit so that patients who are triaged and found not to be emergency cases, can be redirected and easily shuttled to the Out Patient Unit.
Unless there is a 24-hour Out Patient Clinic in close proximity to the A&E Unit, the situation at the GPHC will not improve. It will continue to be a traumatic experience to visit that hospital for treatment.
The hospital should contract out the management of the Out Patients Clinic and the A&E Unit. It should also increase the numbers of doctors servicing these two units.
A modern trauma centre is not the answer. With greater numbers of doctors and better management, the trauma associated with visiting that hospital can disappear.
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