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Residents of the Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice Region (Region Ten) can expect a complete transformation of the healthcare system in the Region come 2021, recently appointed Regional Health Officer(RHO) Dr. Gregory Harris told Village Voice Guyana.
After just one month on the job, Dr. Harris has already submitted his plan of action to the Ministry of Health with the aim of making the Region’s healthcare system unified and functional under the umbrella of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC).
The Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) which is currently functioning under a tripartite system is disjointed and creates limitations in the operation of the Complex. Those employed at the LHC, which constitutes the Upper Demerara Hospital, the Kwakwani Hospital and the Mackenzie Hospital are either answerable to the LHC, the RDC or the Ministry of Health. Given the existing structure, the quality of healthcare services provided at both the primary and secondary levels is affected.
“LHC is a semi-autonomous organization and functions as a department under the Ministry of Health. This complicates the system and for that reason, we need one health care system, one system of governance and that is why I am pushing for the hospital to go under the management of the RDC,” he said.
The RHO is of the firm belief that an amalgamated system will alleviate the issue of drugs and medical supplies shortage at the LHC. He explained that the RDC has the power to purchase capital items and this is done for the health centres across the Region. The LHC, however, does not have this power, since management has to rely on the Ministry of Health to purchase items through the national procurement system.
“If we have one system through the RDC, we can actually purchase everything that is needed for us to carry out our day-to-day activities at the hospital. It will also help to maintain a constant flow of drugs and medical supplies within the Region because there are times when the regional bond has drugs and medical supplies in stock while the hospital is short and while the Region usually assists with this, one system we can eradicate that,” Harris told Village Voice Guyana.
The RHO said too that a unified system can also alleviate personnel issues. He explained that employees of the Complex were either employed by the LHC itself, the RDC or the Ministry. Dr. Harris said this situation complicates matters, causes confusion and allows for limitation, particularly in the case of disciplinary action. In the case of disciplinary action, the RHO said there are many times when the management of the LHC want to discipline staff but could not because they were not employed by the Complex. He is of the fervent view that a singular system would bridge existing gaps in the Region’s healthcare system.
Additionally, the RHO a consolidated system would also allow for residents to recognise the health centres as a department of the LHC thereby allowing the Centres to provide a wider array of services, ultimately reducing the resident’s dependency on the LHC.
“We are looking to improve and build on existing structures in the primary health care system. Ultra sound, X-Ray we want to have one or two days specialized clinics, we are looking to add laboratory services to the health centres such as HB, cholesterol, ECG and so forth,” Harris disclosed while noting that opportunities for employment will be expanded in the Region as persons will be trained to perform specific functions.
Harris said that some of these services will be rolled out before the end of 2020, while others will be included in the 2021 budget.
Meanwhile, tangible efforts are already being made to transform the LHC into a specialized health facility in Region Ten, while the Kwakwani Hospital will be transformed into a diagnostic centre and the Upper Demerara Hospital into an improved infectious hospital. The Upper Demerara Hospital is currently the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) isolation centre for Region Ten.