The Port Kaituma hospital in the north west does not have a functioning generator and nurses and doctors are forced to work under intense pressure especially in emergency situations, residents say.
Since late last year, a generator used to supply power to the hospital whenever there is a power outage, stopped working and was never repaired according to a resident. Stabroek News was told that last week the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs visited the community along with Member of Parliament Joe Hamilton to inspect construction works currently being carried out on the new hospital and nothing was said about the non-working generator.
Region One Chairman Paul Pierre acknowledged that the hospital does not have a functioning generator. He said the Port Kaituma hospital has two generators both of which have been down for quite some time.
He added that the parts for the larger generator, which is used to supply power to the hospital whenever there are blackouts, cannot be sourced. However, they have purchased the parts for the smaller generator and the parts are in Georgetown. Standby power was expected to be made available at the hospital over the weekend, Pierre said. In the meantime, there are rechargeable lamps available to nurses and doctors at the hospital, the official said.
Richard Allen, a resident of Port Kaituma and a board member of the Port Kaituma Power Company, said on the night of the fire two Fridays ago, which claimed the lives of five persons, there was chaos at the hospital.
Allen said that when Linus La Cruz, the alleged arsonist, was taken to the hospital, there was a blackout in the community and the doctors and nurses at the hospital were forced to use torch lights and their cellphones to be able to see to treat La Cruz who suffered burns about his body as a result of the fire.
A doctor, who asked not to be named, when contacted, told Stabroek News that the generator has not been working since late last year but because the power company was reliable, that issue was never too much of a bother.
“Nurses are working under pressure whenever there is a blackout and an emergency arises, like the other day when a pregnant woman went to the hospital to give birth we had to use torches to see what we were doing,” a nurse, said.
It was also stated that up to Thursday there was a blackout in the community and the hospital had to purchase ice to preserve the bodies in the hospital morgue.
Allen also said that a resident is currently keeping certain medications belonging to the hospital in his refrigerator at home. While he thanked the resident for his kind actions, Allen said medication should be kept at the hospital, not at a private residence.
On March 10, an article published in this newspaper said that daily power supply to the community had been restored. However, Allen said, subsequently the generation system started to fail again because of some additional engine parts that needed to be replaced. This led to power supply problems in the area.
In addition, Allen said that the reason for the repeated generator failures is because of the tainted fuel the power company receives. “The bad fuel damages the generator so I think we will have to change suppliers or something,” Allen said.
He added that the power company intends to solve the problem with the fuel supply before replacing the parts of the generator. Otherwise, Allen said, he believes that if the company continues to use the bad fuel, the problem of damaged generator parts will be a recurring one.