No more medical referrals for Lethem residents as ICU set to open

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Residents of Lethem and by extension Region Nine (Upper Takutu – Upper Essequibo) will no longer have to be medevaced to Georgetown or referred to Brazil to seek intensive care treatment as the newly constructed intensive care unit is set to open at the Lethem Regional Hospital.

The unit is intended to provide point of care services to patients, particularly accidents and trauma patients requiring those services within Region Nine, hospital administrator at the Lethem Regional Hospital, Vaughn Duncan told the News Room.

Hospital Administrator at the Lethem Regional Hospital, Vaughn Duncan (Photo: News Room/April 26, 2022)

Apart from reducing the number of referrals from the hospital, Duncan related that the hospital will save on costs but most importantly will also be able to provide immediate response in emergency situations.

“We in health say that within a minute things can change so we don’t want to delay. We want it to be done here, the patients to be treated and cared for here so who knows we can save lives right here,” Duncan said.

“It takes a lot of money to put a place in the sky to medevac a person to Georgetown, it will reduce our dependence on Brazil which we send a lot of our patients there,” he added.

The journey from Lethem to Boa Vista, Brazil by ambulance is approximately one hour thirty minutes while in some cases a medevac would take much longer – sometimes up to two days to get a flight.

Inside the intensive care unit at the Lethem Regional Hospital (Photo: News Room/April 26, 2022)

The unit is currently semi-functional as the hospital does not have the requisite staff to man the department, however, two nurses are currently undergoing specialised training in Georgetown in a bid to manage the department.

“It is furnished to some extent, there are a few fine details that need to go into it however it is operational and if the need arises we activate it, we use it as the need necessitates,” Duncan said.

The unit, which was completed in October 2021, was undertaken by the Regional Democratic Council at a cost of some $14 million.

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