Sep 28, 2021 Peeping Tom
Kaieteur News – One of Guyana’s foremost visual artists wrote a heart-rending letter in yesterday’s edition of the country’s daily newspapers. He related that recently he suffered a ‘stroke’ and was admitted to a private hospital.
But not being a person of means, he had to request a self-discharge because he could not afford to be hospitalised at the private hospital. The doctor attending to him offered to refer him to the Georgetown Public Hospital whose services are free. But the artist, despite suffering a life-threatening sickness, opted not to go.
He explained that his mother died because of poor care at the GPHC and he does not intend to go down that way. As such, he made a plea for assistance.
His story is the plight of many, who are forced to seeking medical treatment at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation. It is either these patients go to the GPHC or return home and die. Not much of a choice there!
The GPHC is a nightmare institution and has been that way for a long time. The service is lousy, and if you are admitted to a ward, your family had better be prepared to come and check-up on you regularly.
The GPHC is not singular in this regard. The GPHC is symptomatic of the state of Guyana’s public health institutions.
No wonder there is such a high level of lack of public confidence in the public health system. People with the means to pay for treatment do not usually go to the GPHC. It may cost them a leg and fortune but they prefer to do so than to endure the tribulations and hassles associated with seeking public health care.
If a comparison is made between the public healthcare system and the private healthcare system, it would be recognised that in terms of treatment here is not much difference. The public health system and the private hospitals are virtually on par when it comes to the quality of the treatment given. But where the difference lies is in the quality of service, the waiting time, nursing care and access to diagnostic services. When it comes to these four areas, the private healthcare system is leaps ahead of the public healthcare system.
There is a certain private hospital in Georgetown. If your bank book is not fat, do not go there. You have to pay for everything and the service does not come cheap.
But the service is top-class. From the moment you step through the door, you are attended to by a courteous and helpful nurse of assistance.
In contrast, when you turn up to a public hospital, you are ignored. You stand there and nobody comes and asks how they can help. You look around hoping that you will catch the attention of one of the staff members. But they look through you as if you are an open door.
Then when you do ask someone for assistance, they shout at you and tell you to go and sit on the bench. And you sit and sit and wait and wait for hours until finally you get the service and then you have to go and do tests and sit and sit and wait. When that is finished, you have sit and sit and wait until the test results are returned.
Then you have to sit and sit and wait and wait to see the doctor again. And then when he is finished, you are sent to the pharmacy and there is another wait there. This is the merry-go-around to which you are subjected to at public healthcare institutions.
If the government wants to reform the public health system, it has to begin looking at the quality of the service the patient receives prior to and after seeing a doctor. Once you fix that, there will be an improvement in public confidence. But unless the ill-mannered staff members become more courteous and helpful, the private health care system will continue to thrive.
There was a poor woman who used to have to attend a clinic at a public institution. She suffered from hypertension. And every time, her clinic day approached, her pressure would skyrocket. The reason for this is just thinking about what she will have to endure at the clinic, stressed the woman out. But if she had money, she could go to a private hospital.
There is a lot of money being made by private healthcare providers. And the doctors within the public health system who moonlight at these hospitals are smiling all the way to the bank.
There is a symbiotic relationship between the public health system and the private healthcare system. The problems of the former are allowing the latter to expand. The more problems the public healthcare system have, the more money the private doctors and hospitals will rake in.
And while at present, the treatment between public healthcare and private health care institutions is comparable, in the long-term, the public health system is going to decline to the point where it might collapse.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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