Jul 31, 2019 News
Thoughts of abandonment and loneliness constantly haunt Peter Henry, a 58-year-old man, who has been a patient of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) for over a month.
From all appearances, Henry has been abandoned by his relatives.
He was taken to GPHC, last month, to be treated. Henry was supposed to spend a few days in the facility under observation for a medical condition, but weeks after he was discharged, he remains there.
There are also no visits from relatives for Henry, leading hospital staffers to conclude that he has been abandoned. The father of three has been in the hospital for the past six weeks. Feeble, he lies on a bed, and frequently sulks.
“The last time I see me children was when they bring me to the hospital. The only people I does see now is the nurses,” he reflected.
Henry is not the only patient of GPHC who is facing such a predicament.
Over the past few years, the institution has been plagued by a rise in the number of abandoned patients.
Social workers spoke to Kaieteur News about the growing issue and how it has negatively impacted the smooth functioning of the hospital’s capacity to cater to the large influx of people seeking medical attention there.
Clayton Newman, a social worker attached to GPHC, told this publication that the hospital has been constantly appealing to relatives to come and reclaim their abandoned loved ones.
Newman explained that, “There has been an increase of patients who have been neglected at the GPHC, especially at the male ward. What we found in the past was generally that these elderly patients were dehydrated and malnourished. When patients are old, nobody wants to take care of them, and in most cases persons of age are neglected at home.
“The general public is of the view that they could neglect their families here and the hospital will take care of them. For every neglected patient that we have in the hospital, we are denying a sick person a bed, and we really need to stop that. As long as the wards are full, emergency will always have a backup. So when you are denying a patient a bed, you are shortchanging us tremendously. You do the system an injustice. ”
According to the social worker, when relatives of the patients are contacted by the hospital staff, they pretend to be clueless.
“No, nobody knows them, they don’t live in the same house, the house that they lived in is broken down, the landlord took back their house; we always hear these sorts of excuses every time we contact them. If the families do not collect those patients, in most cases they remain in the hospital until they pass, or hopefully until there is an opening at the geriatric homes.”
Newman noted that older patients sometimes end up of dying of grief, because they are alone and abandoned, resulting in the hospital having to manage the funeral and expenses.
“Anybody who is abandoned would be depressed. This is an additional burden to the hospital.”
According to Newman, the nation’s primary healthcare institution is in a rough position, with regards to the availability of beds for incoming patients, even at the Accident and Emergency Department of the hospital.
At present, one woman and ten men have been lodged at the hospital’s wards for extended periods. The patients are between the ages of 23 and 75.
OTHER NEGLECTED PATIENTS
Kaieteur News reached out to some of the other neglected patients, now residents at GPHC’s male medical ward. In addition to Henry, the list of abandoned patients includes Dilip Singh, 67, Kumar Gangaram, 45, Ajodnauth Persaud, whose age was not given, and Calvin McAllister, 64.
It was observed that some of the men were sleeping and others taking medication– most of them opted not speak, out of grief.
James DeWeever, 52, lay on a bench in the hospital’s compound. He has been there for months. DeWeever was first admitted to the hospital after he complained of urinating blood.
This publication understands that every time GPHC discharges DeWeever, he returns. Hospital staff related that the man would not leave — he sleeps and lives in his own filth in GPHC’s waiting area.
Marcia Fredericks, also a social worker attached to GPHC, related that, “I have a young lady who was abandoned at GPHC. Her name is Shevauna Harvey. She is 23.”
Fredericks said that based on reports, the young lady was brought to the hospital by a male, in December 2018.
“We tried so hard to get some information about her, because she has a speech and eye impediment. We couldn’t understand what was wrong with her, because we have no idea of her social background,” Fredericks noted.
The woman added that Harvey sometimes speaks a little clearly, and there are other times that you cannot understand her.
“After spending two weeks outside the Accident and Emergency waiting area, the management of the hospital decided to take her in and lodge her in the female medical ward. This was in January. The woman was not diagnosed with any illness, but there was no place else where she could go.”
Fredericks explained that two weeks after she was lodged, a young woman came to the hospital with some information on her, provided by a man said to be Shevauna’s uncle. Kaieteur News contacted that man, but he stated that he did not know much of Shevauna.
“All the family needs to do is to provide Shavauna with her necessities. Shevauna is always writing, and don’t you ever take those books from her. She might not be able to see properly, but she is always scribbling in her books. All she needs is someone to love her,” Fredericks lamented.
“Our family values are not the same anymore. Most of these family members don’t even turn up to bring a bottle of water for them. We are talking about human beings, but society does not know what is going on. We need to work together to put a system in place. We are failing ourselves.”
The social workers assured that the hospital will continue to assist these neglected persons, so that one day they could return to a happy life.
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