By: Shemar Alleyne
Several staffers of the West Demerara Regional Hospital in Region Three have lamented the poor working condition coupled with the dilapidated state of the institution.
Speaking to Nightly News under the condition of anonymity, one of the hospital’s staff disclosed that there was a snake in the toilet bowl, mainly used by staff for about two days until the reptile made its way to some other part of the facility.
“This washroom is used by three departments, and there is a hole that the snake kept coming in that we spoke to them (hospital’s management) about,” the staff shared.
“They sent Rentokil to check, and Rentokil told them that we have bats and a lot of areas where snakes can come in. We pleaded on several occasions to the hospital’s administrator to block this hole; nothing has been done.”
Moreover, a visit to the hospital’s outpatient department revealed several broken windows. As such, the emergency room is filled with mosquitoes at night.
“We have rats or something going into our bags or foodstuff and eating out stuff. We have no cupboards,” another staff member told this publication.
The state of affairs at the hospital took the spotlight last week following an article by Nightly News about no running water at the health facility.
“The main pump for the hospital had stopped working, and as a result, the hospital experienced water shortages for most of the day,” the hospital’s management said in a statement on the Region 3 Health Services’ Facebook page.
In a social media post about his experience at the hospital, Dave Lall said that he had taken his 10-year-old nephew to the facility after a hook went through his finger.
“There is no water in the maternal/pediatric ward. Pregnant mothers and mothers with sick kids have to fetch water in a bucket all the way upstairs to use,” Lall wrote on his Facebook page.
He added that the toilets were filthy and, to a large percent, unusable, while there was a medication shortage.
“The real kicker for me was when they did an X-ray on somebody, and I learned that you need to take a picture of it (X-ray) with your phone and take it to the doctor to interpret.”
This publication reached out to the Regional Health Officer, Dr. Erica Forde, regarding the issues raised by staff and patients.
Despite being on leave, she offered some clarity and provided a number to contact an administration official, who she said would be familiar with the issues.
As for the X-ray problem, Dr. Forde said that the hospital is in the process of having it done digitally.
“To switch over to digital, you must now change out the machine, but you have to put in the computers system and get the fax software, which is a special software—that is being done with in conjunction with the Ministry of Health,” she shared.
However, the staff is contending that, presently, this poses some challenges. Among the challenges is being unable to properly read the X-ray owing to the patient’s phone camera quality.
Further, if the patient does not have a smartphone, the doctors would have to walk to that department to look at the X-ray.
When contacted, one of the hospital’s admin staff confirmed that a snake made its way into the washroom area, owing to a hole underneath the pipe that runs to the septic tank.
“We found a hole underneath a pipe that leads out from the washroom; maybe a snake would have gotten in because when we sent a staff to remove the snake, we did not find any, and the hole was blocked up.”
The staff is now questioning where the snake would have gone, but the admin staff said, “we threw formalin around the building that would keep them away.”
As it relates to the state of the building, the admin staff said that this year, the hospital’s management would replace the broken windows and fix other issues.
“Right now, we are getting supplies for the staff, we are getting proper seating arranged for them, we are fixing places that have other issues like leaks and so on, and then we will get to the windows.”
“I would appreciate it if you can check us back in three months,” the admin staff told this reporter.
However, the staff is not optimistic that their concerns will be addressed, citing a letter dated August 24, 2022, with some of these issues listed, but none have been addressed.