A shortage of nurses and midwives is currently plaguing the East Bank Demerara, Diamond Diagnostic Centre. The hospital, as a result, has been operating at a diminished capacity.
This was underscored by Deputy Chief Medical Officer [DCMO], Dr. Karen Boyle, who was part of a Ministry of Public Health delegation that toured the hospital recently.
“The Diamond Diagnostic Centre is operating at some 25 percent of what it should be operating at and as such there is an urgent need for more nurses and midwives,” said Dr. Boyle.
She pointed out that while the hospital has brought on board a number of specialists, who have helped to enhance the level of service and performance of the hospital, there continues to be a great shortage of the nursing staff.
Addressing this is crucial, said Dr. Boyle, even as she said that the Public Health Ministry, along with the Regional Health Services Department of Region Four, will meet to chart the way forward.
In the interim, though, she considered that several nurses will have to be shifted around to ensure that the hospital can have adequate nurses and midwives on duty. This move, she explained, should help to reduce the heavy workload of some nurses.
“I chatted with the staff at Diamond [Hospital] to find out how things are working and also to hear about some of their challenges and to brainstorm together in terms of what can be put in place, to see what needs to be done so that we can help to improve the quality of service.
“They are certainly doing a good job here but there are some areas where they definitely need help,” said Dr. Boyle.
Nevertheless, the DCMO said that she is overall impressed with the level and quality of services being offered. She disclosed that she was particularly impressed with the fact that the hospital has been able to attract some nine specialists covering a wide range of areas.
She, however, noted that there is certainly an urgent need for more support nursing staff.
“We need more nurses to function in a number of areas in a 24-hour hospital. We will certainly need more nurses and midwives and I think this is a problem that we are having countrywide,” Dr. Boyle said.
Commenting on the obstetrics and gynaecology [OBGY] services, the DCMO disclosed that there are two obstetricians at the hospital but stressed that in order to provide an effective 24-hour service there is an urgent need for more support staff.
“The truth of the matter is that ‘ever so often’ countries from the north come in and they raise their flags and are able to attract some of our brightest nurses. We are having serious challenges in terms of registered nurses and midwives…
“So we will have to find out how we can shift nurses and midwives from various regions to lend services here. A shift system must be in place for this diagnosis center to really function the way that we envisioned it to serve the East Bank corridor,” Dr. Boyle stressed.
The DCMO disclosed too that the Public Health Ministry has been listening to several residents’ requests for a significant expansion of the hospital admitting that the hospital has certainly outgrown its current space.
She said that the Ministry is seeking to address this issue, noting that some support have been forthcoming from the Pan American Health Organization [PAHO]. As such, she said that the Smart Hospital initiative is being given close attention.
“We have been looking at expanding the hospital while changing some of the buildings that we have here and maybe use some of them that are used presently for housing and convert them into wards,” she added.
“The other option that we are exploring is having a new location with much bigger facilities so we are presently exploring these two options. So we do agree that there is a need for expansion of the hospital as there is a need for something more robust to cater to the needs of this population.”
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