Tensions escalate as Linden Hospital CEO returns to duty

Nurses at the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) and Region 10 (Upper Demerara- Berbice) officials continued protest action outside the hospital on Wednesday, after the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rudy Small returned to office.
Small was believed to have been removed from his post following allegations that he made slanderous remarks about nurses during an interview with a local online news agency.

Nurses and other staffers outside the Linden Hospital Complex on Wednesday

On Wednesday, Police had to be called in at the LHC after confrontations reportedly turned violent, with a nurse alleging that she was physically assaulted by a hospital driver, who allegedly also damaged her phone.
The driver was arrested at the hospital and taken into Police custody. The CEO was also escorted by Police in a hospital vehicle from the compound as nurses aggressively shouted, reiterating calls for his removal.
Regional Commander, Superintendent Hugh Winter later told Guyana Times that Small was escorted by Police just “for safe passage” and was not taken into custody. The Commander said the hospital driver, however, is “assisting with the investigation”.

Protesting nurses
Protesting nurses also alleged that the CEO issued “threats” to a nurse during the confrontations on Wednesday. After the CEO left the hospital, Regional Health Officer (RHO), Dr Gregory Harris handed over documents on behalf of Small. One of the documents was a letter of apology.

The Linden Hospital driver being escorted by Police following his arrest

“I am issuing an unequivocal apology to the nurses and all staff of the Linden Hospital Complex. I made a statement that was hurtful to the nurses and that must have hurt other staff. There is no excuse for my public utterances on this matter, and I am, therefore, sincerely apologising to all those that my utterances have hurt. I have disappointed those who placed their confidence in me and for that I am truly sorry,” Small said in the letter.
He added that when he assumed the post of the LHC CEO in November 2020, he committed to manage the hospital in the best interests of the people of Linden and Region 10. “I committed to work with my management and technical colleagues to ensure we together – united in our mission – will make the Linden Hospital one of the best functioning hospitals in Guyana and a place we could all be proud of. I had promised that the Linden Hospital Complex will be an institution that will bring pride to the people of Region 10,” he stated in the letter.
Small continued that he remained committed to these ideals and to the mission, as he reiterated his commitment.
“ I genuinely believe that the staff of the Linden Hospital Complex is a dedicated and committed staff, and I am renewing my promise to work with our staff to ensure the mission is achieved. I have learnt much since coming to the Linden Hospital Complex and every day prepares me to be better. I will work diligently with all staff to ensure that the original mission of a successful and great institution is promoted every day,” he said.
The other document was a letter dated March 2, 2021 from the Health Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Malcolm Watkins, which stated that the Ministry, having had a frank discussion with the CEO, had decided that he return to his position.
“The Ministry of Health wishes to caution that we expect you to conduct yourself in a manner consistent with the position you are employed in. We expect that you will engage in activities with the staff that mend the tension in the relationship that presently exists,” the letter stated.
However, Regional Chairman Deron Adams maintained that RHO Harris was named in a previous letter from the Ministry to be the person to take up temporary responsibility for the LHC. “My position remains clear. We are in support of the decision that has been taken by the nurses…What is he doing here?” Adams said following a meeting with the RHO and union representatives at the hospital on Wednesday.