I would like to congratulate all the new faces entering politics and lobbying the population for an opportunity to make positive changes. Political power, derived from the people, is absolutely necessary in order to make meaningful change.
An unfortunate lad in the city of Georgetown had the misfortune of developing a severe toothache on the afternoon of 13th February, 2020 that warranted an immediate extraction. The Health Center that he visited at 2 pm turned him away saying that the dentist only operates at 8:00 am and for him to return the next day at 8:00 am. What is a man with a toothache to do in Georgetown after 12 pm? He requested to see a doctor on duty for some strong medication to help the pain. The receptionist told him he cannot see the doctor because he might have an infection and he needs to see the dentist and to please return in the morning at 8:00 am. She was unable to notice that he was in pain and needed immediate help. What is wrong with our health care professionals that they are bereft of empathy and compassion? Normal people seeing someone in discomfort would rush to see what they can do to assist. But in Guyana, the culture of Guyana’s public institutions is to say No, Turn Away, Ask for Bribe, Come back tomorrow. ‘No’ is easier than helping persons.
The lad asked of me to take him to the Cheddi Jagan Dental School. Upon arrival there at approximately 2:30 pm, a guard sitting on duty said pompously that no one is available and that no extractions can be done because ‘they have closed off for today’. I asked to be directed to where we can go to get an extraction. The answer was that we should return tomorrow morning or go to Cheddi Jagan on Croal Street. (I imagine he meant Charlotte St.) I found that unacceptable. I told the guard that I need to speak to someone senior. He said that was not possible. I walked past him and inquired of a medical professional walking aimlessly inside of where to take a person who needs an immediate extraction. The woman looked contemptuously at me and barked that I should ask the guard. Why do we continue to pay people like this a salary? This complacency and disrespect for Guyanese and for the dental profession will disappear the moment every one of them gets fired and replaced by Cubans.
I asked the guard again which public institution is available to attend to people after Cheddi Jagan Dental School ‘closes off for the day’ since a patient was present who needed immediate care. The guard, completely lost to his purpose, asserted the full extent of his idiocy and lack of training and class with ‘you disrespected me, so I will disrespect you now. You go to Cheddi Jagan on Croal St.’ I interpreted that to mean that we must earn the punishment for disrespecting him and go pay for private dental care. What can be worst than having no compassion and empathy for a fellow human being in pain? Year after year, people are complaining, under different governments, of the treatment at this health care facility and yet the complacency continues.
After the raucousness outside with the Guard, a senior looking individual, a dentist, ran outside. His advice to the man in pain was to drink 4 panadols every 4 hours, since, the dentist claimed he had no drugs in stock to offer anything for pain.
This is what we are doing in Guyana in 2020.
My blood boils when I see the way the poorest and the most vulnerable in Guyanese society are being ill-treated and stamped upon. Had I an ounce of political power, I would have fired from the guard to the Director of the Cheddi Jagan Dental School for the way they treated a poor man with a toothache. Cheddi Jagan must be turning in his grave to have his name associated with this level of depravity and complacency.
All Guyanese have a constitutional right to free medical attention and going to a private health care facility should be a choice, not a necessity. Soon, we in this country will be jumping up and down celebrating 50 years of being a Republic. What have we really achieved? All we have accomplished is a deeply divided class society, where the poor grovel in the mud and constitutional rights are nothing but a farce. Guyanese, as a people, lack self respect.
It is my hope that by sharing this experience, someone responsible can educate the Guyanese public, especially those living in the great Capital City of Georgetown, of where they can go to get emergency public dental care after 12 noon on weekdays and weekends.
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