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Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Berbice Regional Health Authority (BRHA), Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo; CEO of the New Amsterdam Hospital, Mr. Alan Johnson; and PRO of BRHA, Mr. Michael Itwaru were recently grilled about allegations of shortage of drugs at the hospitals.
There have also been allegations of relatives being asked to take their own bed sheets and linen for their hospitalized relatives at the New Amsterdam Hospital.
The grilling came during the Press Conference hosted by the Region Six Administration. Region Six Chairman, Mr. David Armogan, at the same forum, then issued a stern warning to the health care seniors and managers in Berbice who hoard bed sheets and linen at the various hospitals. With specific reference to the New Amsterdam Hospital, the Chairman said that he received allegations of families of patients being asked to walk with their own bed sheets and linen for the beds in the wards, when government has been spending millions of dollars to procure these  and other items for the N/A Hospital.
“This morning, somebody raised the question about linen at N/A Hospital and they said when they went there with their grandfather, nurses told them they have to bring their own sheets. I couldn’t believe that—but when I checked it out, apparently it was so!”
Dr. Mahadeo replied that 720 white sheets and 500 green sheets were procured for the facility last year. “And it’s a hospital that has just over 100 beds with 50 to 60 per cent occupancy, so I am sure sheets are there. And I am sure that’s a management issue at the lower levels, because the beds shouldn’t have any coloured sheets.”
Mr. Johnson said that it might be a case where nurses are hoarding the sheets. He promised to sort the issue out by next week.
Armogan was shocked. “We have to find out where they are going.”
He blamed the problem on an “administrative mix- up where the sheets were washed and locked away somewhere and were not given to where they were supposed to have gone.”
He said that such “administrative bungling” causes the administration “serious embarrassment.”
He noted that a lot of these situations can be avoided. While healthcare delivery has improved, Armogan registered his dissatisfaction with the ongoing issues that keep raising their ugly heads at the N/A Hospital.
The N/A Hospital has two figureheads and top managers: a CEO and a Medical Superintendent. Berbice also has a regulatory body, the Berbice Regional Health Authority that examines healthcare delivery.
Yet, there have been numerous complaints and allegations over the years about healthcare delivery at N/A Hospital and other health care facilities in the Region. Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran referred to the issues as stemming from a management problem. In the past, Ramsaran blasted the authorities in the Region for not monitoring the hospital on a daily basis, too.
The outpatient facility at the hospital was rehabilitated and extended; the theatre at Skeldon Hospital is also undergoing upgrades and extension to allow for more surgeries. The stores and kitchen of the National Psychiatric Hospital also underwent extensive repairs and upgrades, according to the Chairman.
A new Ambulance has also been procured for the N/A Hospital and motorcycles and All- Terrain Vehicles for the health care officials and medex at the Orealla Health Centre, located along the Corentyne River.
The electricity woes at the N/A Hospital, too, are expected to be a thing of the past as the Region Six Administration has purchased a $12M 500Kv Generator for the facility. The old 65KVA generator was installed by the Japanese company Kitano Construction during the hospital’s construction many years ago, only as a back- up system to power essential areas in the hospital.
Armogan alluded to the serious problems experienced in the past (some of which hit the press) with regard to allegations of malpractice and negligence during surgeries carried out in blackout situations.
Addressing shortages of pharmaceuticals, Dr. Mahadeo said, “We had shortages; we have shortages, and that’s the truth,” he added. Minister Ramsaran, earlier last month, had stated in Berbice that the shortage of drugs at N/A Hospital could very well be credited to a deeper situation that exists. Pharmacists working there have private pharmaceutical interests, he said.
Mahadeo said that last year the region budgeted $30M for drugs. About $18M was spent on medical cases, “and the rest was used to supplement the shortages we were getting…” from the Ministry of Health.
“We don’t buy drugs only to supplement what comes from MoH,” he added. “We had shortages…not due to our fault—I’ve been requesting and they’ve either been giving us short supplies or sometimes none.
“We got a lot of help other than the monies we used from the budget to buy supplies to supplement what we’ve been having, and we also got help from Food For The Poor (FFTP) and medical relief from smaller donors. Here, I am talking about over-the-counter-drugs.”
He hoped that 2015 would be a better year “because stocks we will be receiving in 2015 should have been ordered at least eight months before.”


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