Aug 05, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Co-director of Lyken’s Funeral Home, Dawn Stewart, has moved to take legal action against the Health Board, an arm of the Ministry of Health, after it instructed the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to not do any more business with her company.
Stewart told Kaieteur News that her attorney, Khemraj Ramjattan, has already written a letter to the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, about the legal action the funeral home will be taking.
This newspaper had recently reported that GPF was instructed by the Ministry of Health to stop sending bodies to the funeral home until further notice.
Deputy Director of the Corporate Communications Unit (CCU) of the GPF, Stan Gouveia, had explained that the Ministry’s reason for withholding business from the parlour was because it was in breach of some health protocols.
The Health Ministry had reportedly conducted health inspections on several occasions and had advised the management to make changes but it had never complied. Stewart said yesterday that “first of all the Ministry of Health has never formally informed Lyken Funeral Home by way of a notice or a letter that it had breached health protocols. Neither did the Ministry notify the parlour that it had instructed the Force to terminate the contract.”
The co-director added that she was also never informed by the GPF of this development and had learnt of the matter from the local newspapers.
Stewart claimed that after querying about the contract termination, she learnt that one of the protocols the funeral home is accused of breaching is not having an extra refrigerator to store decomposed bodies separately. “They (the Health Board) are of the view that decomposed bodies can contaminate the fresher ones,” Stewart told reporters.
Based on her knowledge of mortuary science, the co-director argued that this theory is flawed because from the time someone dies, their body starts to decompose.
Moreover, Stewart said, “there is no law in Guyana that requires any funeral home to have two, five or more refrigerators.”
Through her attorney, she is contending that the decision to terminate the contract on such a basis is wrong. With regard to other health regulations or protocols that the parlour might have broken and despite multiple warnings, they failed to make changes, Stewart said, that the health inspectors had never disclosed to her what these are.
“Every time they conduct inspections, we would ask them to tell us what regulations we are breaching. Make a list with check box so that we can know what we have to do but they have never done that,” Stewart related.
“So we never had an idea of what changes and upgrades we have to make in order to pass inspection,” she added.
She is therefore suspicious that the Health Board is being vindictive and “just want to shut us down.”
Stewart claimed that she being accused of not paying taxes to GRA as well but insisted that she has evidence to prove that this is not true. The co-director also informed this newspaper that Lyken Funeral Home is owed around $35M by the GPF.
This debt, she stated, are from unpaid bills for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Kaieteur News had reached out to the Force to respond to Stewart’s allegation. Through the CCU, the GPF stated that it is possible that such an amount is owed because of how the government system works.
However, the Force noted that Lyken had made such claims before and its management was told to furnish the Force with the necessary records and bills for reconciliation but this was not done. Once again, according to CCU, if the funeral home is owed that amount, the GPF is calling for the management to come forward with its records for reconciliation.
Stewart on the other hand claimed that she had adhered to their request more than once by taking in the records but Lyken was never paid. “Orders were given for the debts to be cleared off but probably because of the lengthy time the government system takes, it never came through,” related the co-director.
Nevertheless, Stewart told reporters that the parlour will adhere to the request and provide the necessary records to the GPF.
Lyken, for more than two decades, had stored bodies in its parlour, at the behest of the GPF.
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