Indefinite closure points to grave mismanagement – former Health Minister

NA Hospital mortuary

By Samuel Sukhnandan

In light of the announcement that the mortuary at the New Amsterdam Hospital has been closed indefinitely, former Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy said that the facility’s administration and the Health Ministry have an obligation to immediately outline a plan for the beginning of mortuary services at the Hospital as soon as possible.

Former Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy

Director of Regional Health Services, Jevaughn Stephen has said that the decision to close the mortuary was taken on January 23, 2018. According to Stephens, the Hospital’s administration had been experiencing issues with the mortuary during the latter part of 2018 owing to a fluctuation in the electricity supply provided by the Guyana Power and Light (GPL).
The Health Services Director added that other equipment at the Hospital was also being affected by the fluctuation in electricity.
However, Dr Ramsammy described the situation as “unfortunate”, since he believes that it was allowed to deteriorate to the extent that the mortuary service has to be discontinued. According to him, the Hospital and the Ministry are obligated to put in place contingency arrangements at their cost, arguing that the discontinuation of service ought not to add any further burden and trauma on families.
“I am particularly peeved that such a dire situation has arisen with bodies that were in the mortuary significantly deteriorated and now no service and the Ministers of Health have not found it necessary to address the matter. It cannot be that they have no time,” he added.

Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence

The former Health Minister pointed out that both Ministers Volda Lawrence and Dr Karen Cummings have been out in full election campaign mode but have neglected serious issues in the sector.
He said, “As I have consistently bemoaned, these Ministers are missing in action (MIA). This matter and other matters, like the death of three children at the Georgetown Hospital, are matters that must be addressed by the Ministers. Their absence and invisibility in these matters represent an egregious dereliction of duty, misconduct in office, and political malfeasance.”

Political malfeasance
Dr Ramsammy says he also believes that the mortuary situation at the New Amsterdam Hospital is another example of the long list of wrongs resulting from lack of leadership by the Ministers and mismanagement.
“I do believe the mismanagement results largely from the political policy of sending home proven and skilful managers and replacing them with handpicked managers who are party activists,” he added.
The New Amsterdam Hospital mortuary, he stated, is the result of political malfeasance and is only one of the many serious consequences of the total mismanagement of the health sector. “Whether it is in Region Six or anywhere else in the country, people have lost confidence and hope that this Government can improve lives of ordinary citizens. Minister Lawrence must resign.”
Over two weeks ago, several bodies decomposed while being stored at the mortuary, prompting at least one family to call for an investigation. It was reported that at least four bodies decomposed while being stored in the mortuary.
The upset relatives of the deceased have called on the Ministry to launch an immediate investigation. The bodies include that of Rabindranauth Ramnarace, 47, who passed away on December 31, 2018.
His brother, Seepaul Ramlochan said he was unsure of the cause of his brother’s death, since a post-mortem examination was eventually not done to the body’s state of decomposition while being stored at the hospital.
Residents of New Amsterdam and surrounding areas have also been calling on the Government to address the rapidly deteriorating conditions at the New Amsterdam Hospital.
A protest was prompted after an elderly patient died last week after she was reportedly given nine injections. Further, the residents are alleging that several critical pieces of equipment are out of order in addition to a shortage of basic medicines leaving them to come to the conclusion that the institution’s affairs were not being properly managed.
As a consequence, they have called for the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Samantha Kennedy’s immediate resignation.