Mahdia fire: 2 girls remain critical at GPHC, others listed as stable – Health Ministry

…over 260 persons receive mental health support
– results of DNA analysis on 13 bodies expected in 72 hours

Twelve girls remain hospitalised at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) after suffering burn injuries from the tragic Mahdia dormitory fire in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) last Sunday evening.
The Health Ministry on Thursday stated that the children who were admitted to the Mahdia District Hospital were discharged.
Of the 12 girls, a breakdown showed that three are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and nine are in the Paediatric High Dependency Unit (PHDU). Two of them are listed as critical and are in the ICU, while the others are listed as stable.
“Their conditions are improving, and discharges for some are possible in the shortest possible time,” the Ministry stated in a release to the media.
In addition, after arriving in Mahdia, President Irfaan Ali had requested that 11 children who had gone home without seeing a doctor be medically assessed. These children arrived in Georgetown on Wednesday and were examined by a special team.
Presently, there is an enhanced medical team in Mahdia. The Director of Primary and Family Health Care, Dr Ertenisa Hamilton, is on the ground coordinating the medical response. She is being supported by the Hinterland Health Coordinator from the Regional Health Services Department, Michael Gouveia, and Deputy Director of Regional Health Services, Dr Veronica Griffith.
Director General of the Health Ministry, Dr Vishwa Mahadeo, is providing overall oversight of the medical response in ensuring that an enhanced medical team remains in place at Mahdia for follow-up in the next three months.
“At the end of the three months, a review will be conducted to ensure an enhanced capacity continues in Mahdia,” the Ministry outlined.
The GPHC Emergency Team and Specialist Departments are fully on alert, emergency and heightened mode. All the senior administrative and medical management teams, including Chief Executive Officer Robbie Rambarran, Director of Medical and Professional Services, Dr David Samaroo; Director of Nursing, Leslyn Holder; Director of Emergency Medical Services, Dr Zulfikar Bux; and Head of the Burns and Plastic Surgery Department, Dr Shilindra Rajkumar, were fully mobilised and have been on the ground at GPHC on 24-hour alert. The GPHC teams have assessed and treated 29 children thus far.

Mental health response
Under the coordination of the Director of Non-Communicable Diseases, Dr Lachmie Lall, several mental health teams were dispatched to Mahdia. They comprise one child psychiatrist, one child psychologist, three adult psychiatrists, two general psychologists, six social workers, mental health assistants, and two mental health-trained family physicians.
Priority was given to all the children who were in the dorm at the time of the fire, parents, guardians and teachers on the first day. They were all evaluated and offered psychosocial support.
On the second day, the 14 children who were hospitalised in Mahdia, and their parents, were evaluated, including the parents of the children who died in the fire.
“Auxiliary staff in direct contact with the fire, and first responders, which were inclusive of teachers, Police officers and other support staff were also assessed and given psychosocial support. Students who were not hospitalized but were in direct contact with the incident, and students that were not in direct contact with the incident but were affected were also assessed and provided psychosocial support.”
Thus far, in Mahdia and other villages, the teams have worked with 260 persons, including 126 children.

The pathology team was led by Government Pathologist Dr Nehaul Singh. Six autopsies were conducted in Mahdia. In addition, 13 bodies that could not have been positively identified were transported to Georgetown for DNA analysis.
The Police Services arranged for an RSS specialist pathologist to come into the country to assist with DNA identification. The Pathologist, from Barbados, arrived in Guyana and completed the post-mortem on the remaining bodies, and DNA samples were collected. The DNA samples were transported through a charter aircraft jointly organised by Mount Sinai and Hess Corporation. The samples arrived before midnight on Wednesday, and rapid results for identification purposes are expected between 48 and 72 hours.
The Ministry has already received medications for critically-ill patients from Mount Sinai. Both Mount Sinai and PAHO/WHO provided kits for burn patients. The world-famous Cornell Burns Department has been consulting with the Ministry, and is providing both guidance and supplies.
The Ministry’s Emergency Protocol has been effectively mobilized, as Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony works feverishly with the international communities to ensure the medical response is of the highest international standard.

The Health Ministry detailed that it was alerted at about midnight last Sunday and into Monday morning that a catastrophic event was taking place in Mahdia, where a fire had engulfed the female dormitory at the Mahdia Secondary School.
The Health Emergency Protocols were activated immediately. A team of doctors and other public health officials from both Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) and the Ministry headed by a Burns Specialist and Plastic Surgeon, Dr Shilindra Rajkumar, were assembled and departed the Eugene F Correia International Airport at about 01:45h. Earlier departure was impeded by inclement weather, resulting in the team arriving at 02:50h.
By that time, the local health team at the Mahdia District Hospital had already been responding to the crisis, and had already prepared three patients for a medivac to the GPHC, with one person’s condition listed as critical. They arrived at Ogle and were immediately transferred to GPHC.
Subsequently, two other medivacs brought in six additional patients. By the afternoon of Monday, five of those patients were stabilised and admitted into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Another underwent surgery and was admitted into the Burns Care Unit (BCU), and three others were admitted into the Paediatric High Dependency Unit (PHDU).
On Tuesday, 10 more patients were medevacked to the GPHC. Their condition was listed as stable. Only three of these ten children were still patients at the Mahdia District Hospital at the time of medivac. The other seven were housed at the hospital because it was the most convenient accommodation at the time.
The MOH, out of an abundance of caution, decided to medivac the ten children for further general, medical and psychiatric examination at GPHC. The three children who were hospitalised at Mahdia Hospital were assessed and admitted into the PHDU, while the other seven were admitted for further observation and subsequently discharged into the care of the Education, Human and Social Services Ministries and Amerindian Affairs Ministry.