Gov’t moves to reduce burden on Georgetown Hospital

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The Diamond Diagnostic Centre, East Bank Demerara (EBD) and the C.C. Nicholson Hospital, East Coast Demerara (ECD) will be upgraded to Regional Hospitals under a two-year plan to decrease the current burden on the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) – the country’s sole referral hospital.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), the Georgetown Hospital attends to some 30,000 patients annually while the number of beds at the tertiary health institution declined from a high of some 1,800 to only 440 currently.

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence explained that the GPHC’s inability to attend to the swell in patients is also reflected in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Unit which has only 18 beds to cater for men, women and children. She made the remarks when she met with Councillors of the Region Four Regional Democratic Council (RDC) at its Triumph, East Coast Demerara (ECD) Office, the statement said.

She noted too that “it is a well-known fact that the GPHC is over-run by patients from all 10 Administrative Regions.”

Only recently, Georgetown Hospital disclosed that it receives most of its referrals from the West Demerara Hospital due to the lack of facilities and services there.

“Because of these shortcomings, the MoPH thinks it is prudent to upgrade the two primary health institutions on the East Coast and East Bank to cater for victims of road accidents, violent crimes, domestic and intimate partner violence and other types of crimes in Region Four which boasts the highest figure in every category of violence,” the Minister was quoted as saying.

The improvement plan will be backed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) and funding from the local treasury.

The Ministry said the multimillion-dollar transformation plan will commence early 2018 following a soon-to-be-signed tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among the Ministries of Public Health and Communities and the Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) RDC.

Minister Lawrence, who unveiled the proposed pact, explained that upgrading the two health institutions is necessary to help remove some overwork from the GPHC institution, minimise the likelihood of errors made by fatigued hospital staff and enable better daily management of the tertiary health institution.

It is also necessary, Lawrence emphasised, because “everyone wants to live in Region 4 and the problem (of overcrowding at the GPHC and exhausted staff) is not going away. It is growing”.

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