Magistrate Cecil Sullivan’s death

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Yesterday, Monday former Magistrate Cecil Sullivan died whilst attempting to seek care from the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). This hospital, which is Guyana’s largest and most vital facility, is presently refusing to allow entry to staff who have not had the COVID-19 vaccine or produced a negative test. Those seeking care from the hospital based on advice whilst they can enter the loved ones accompanying them are required to show either proof of a negative COVID test or recipient of the vaccine.

There is ongoing protest at the GPHC, of which today would be the sixth day, since healthcare workers who have not taken the vaccine or could show proof of a negative test are being locked out from their work thereby denying persons the care they need. It could only be imagined what the quality of service the patients on the wards are receiving, because staffing shortage would put greater pressure delivering at the expected level. Manpower shortage would affect the overall quality of care, including convalescence.

This was the scene Sullivan, who sought the care of the GPHC, would have met yesterday when his family accompanied him. The management of GPHC was quick to issue a statement about how he died, and expressed condolences to his family. People who were in the vicinity of the hospital had a dissimilar version to the GPHC’s statement and are of the opinion the hospital was negligent in providing the appropriate care and timely intervention.

Last evening, A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change Member of Parliament (MP) and Opposition Whip, Christopher Jones in an interview with fellow MP Sherrod Duncan on his ‘In the Ring’ programme, gave a detailed account of what they saw. Jones is of the opinion the runaround the family had to do in order to get care for Sullivan lasted about 22 minutes.

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Either way the optics is not accepted, no one should have had to wait so long to access the care needed, especially when it was made known the person was having respiratory distress. Respiratory distress could be for any reason but it was very important to prioritise such care given its relation to COVID. Sullivan is said to have had the first shot of the vaccine and is awaiting another.

The Government cannot ignore growing concerns about its management style towards the pandemic, including the treatment of frontline workers at the GPHC, Linden and Lethem health complexes. Where sections of society have become immune, unbothered or supportive of the present decisions at these hospitals this may be the time to ask were Sullivan your relative would you have wanted to him to have delayed care or no care.

A country loses its sense of nationhood and the people their humanity when they no longer care about the other or no longer possess empathy for the other. The Sullivan’s tragedy is not only serious because of the prominence of the person but because policies could be made and decisions enacted and  implemented without due care.



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