GPHC says it tried to resolve ‘life-threatening’ vending for years

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See full statement from the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC):

The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) wishes to provide some insight into the ongoing discourse regarding vending and illegal parking along New Market and East Streets which encumber the two main entrances to the hospital. While these discussions currently surround a notice issued by the Minister of Public Works, the Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill, the dialogue originated from multiple requests by the Management of the GPHC to resolve this issue by relocating the vendors away from the main thoroughfare to the hospital in-patient and emergency entrances.

Our records show that the relevant authorities were written to in 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2022 regarding this issue, sighting the threat posed by the obstruction of the traffic, particularly for ambulant vehicles and patients who are seeking care at the GPHC. While the requests for relocation of these vendors predate the current discourse, the situation has worsened over the years and now requires urgent and tactical action. The obstruction that vending on New Market Street between Thomas and East Streets causes has become a life-threatening situation. 

In May 2015, the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Michael Khan cited the need for an immediate intervention to mitigate any “unfortunate incidents as a result of the cluttering at the gates”. In February 2016, the CEO (ag), Mr. Allan Johnson, wrote to the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) requesting the relocation of the eight (8) vendors who “impede the smooth flow of pedestrians…” followed by another correspondence from CEO, Mr. Khan in October 2016, noting that “ambulances encounter difficulty maneuvering their way in and out of the hospital”. 

More recently, former CEO, Brigadier (ret’d) George Lewis wrote to the Mayor of Georgetown in September 2019 requesting an audience to discuss solutions to the blocking of the hospital’s access roads, followed by another letter to His Worship in November 2022 from CEO (ag) Mr. Robbie Rambarran requesting a meeting to discuss “vending in the vicinity of the GPHC”. 

For the GPHC, this has always been a matter of access to care – the presence of vendors along these streets has often delayed, particularly ambulant patients, from accessing the services they need in a timely manner. As the primary trauma care provider in the city, we cannot underscore enough the importance of having unincumbered access to our facility for our patients and their relatives. The risk that this obstruction poses is too great to ignore; for ambulant, pregnant and trauma patients, time is a critical determinant in their medical management and any imminent delays should be abated. 

The inundation of unauthorized street vending along the New Market and East Street pavements not only congests the pathways for ambulances and ambulant patients but also poses a challenge for keeping the hospital’s environs clean and impacts noise nuisance for patients in the hospital, as persons who stop in their vehicles to purchase from the vendors aggravate drivers who resort to excessively shouting and blowing their horns. 

The life-threatening situation is further compounded because the obstruction also delay staff from accessing the hospital compound.

These conditions are not conducive to the effective functioning of any medical facility, particularly the GPHC. We understand that the vendors must make a living, but the presence of vendors on New Market Street between Thomas and East Streets now constitute a real life-threatening situation. The uncontrolled vending on New Market Street is a real detriment to our staff, patients, and their relatives. The GPHC looks forward to a swift solution by removing the obstruction that presently affects easy access to the hospital. 

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