Councillors decry poor conditions at Region 10 health centres

– proper facilities, equipment needed

Concerns have been raised by Regional Councillors of Region 10 (Upper Demerara/Berbice) Democratic Council (RDC) following a recent visit to numerous Health Centres across the region by the administration’s Works Committee.
Of major concerns are the One Mile Health Centre at Wismar, Linden and Old England Health Centre at Mackenzie.
During this month’s statutory meeting Councillor Charles Sampson pointed to several issues at the Old England Centre which he said needs to be addressed immediately.
While he urged the Regional Health Department to step up efforts, he questioned whether the department ever conducts visits.
He pointed out too that the facility appears to be too small to serve the growing community.
“The Old England Health Centre is too small. There is no space…it needs expansion. When you go in there, you shuffling between people. They want chairs, they want equipment and when we went, there one working light. All the other lights were not working, were recently installed, brand new but they aren’t working…the people in that area are suffering every day,” he explained.
Sampson said too that there is an absence of potable water at the facility and for staff to secure water they have to manually fetch it. He called on the RDC to put systems in place to facilitate the regular supply of water to the health institution, while noting that due to its landscape, water accumulates inside the compound when it rains, resulting in flooding.
Alluding to conditions at the One Mile Health Centre, he said the facility which stores medical supplies for other health centres in the community does not have backup power supply during power outages, as was witnessed by the visiting team. The existing generator is out of order.
“There are a litany of woes at the One Mile Health Centre. There were so many things that were discussed with the nurses and the people who administer, that one wonders if the Regional Health Department ever visits these places”, the Councillor vocally wondered at the meeting.
In addition, he pointed to garbage build-up and overgrown vegetation in the compound: “Why can’t we keep those facilities clean?” he wanted to know.
The councillor also explained that he was informed that concerns raised by staff at the health centre allegedly results in threats of transfers.
Additionally, Sampson stressed the need for an emergency response to address some of the issues. He stated that all the centres visited including the Wisroc and Coomacka Health Centres appeared to have one common issue: dilapidated equipment for staff nurses.
Sampson explained that there is usually no proper response from the Health Department when written to on numerous issues: “There are lots of issues that have to be addressed immediately, and we are talking about people’s health”, he stressed.
On the flipside, Sampson said the Health Centre at Coomacka is in good shape.
Meanwhile, Councillor Douglas Gittens, part of the visiting team, said the burning of garbage in open spaces was a common practice by those health centres visited; he made calls for the construction of incinerators.
Gittens also requested that a letter be written to the relevant health authorities to enquire about the faecal coliform level of the water in the Region, since he said it is considered extremely high.
In a response to several issues outlined, Regional Chairman Renis Morian said he sincerely hopes that no staff is transferred for highlighting such issues, while noting that it is disturbing that in the quest to seek the necessary upgrades they are targeted:
“Our nurses and support staff shouldn’t feel afraid of anybody. Nobody shouldn’t threaten anybody if they’re asking for their work conditions to be improved…I’m saying that if you’re threatening the workers in Region 10, then you aren’t supposed to be working in Region 10…because people continue to ask for an evolution of their work environment to feel better,” Morian said.
He also made a promise to meet with leaders in the Region’s health departments, as he urged all to work towards having the issues addressed.