The Angoy’s Avenue Health Centre (AAHC) located in Smythfield, New Amsterdam recently hosted its first Health Centre Day and it was disclosed that the facility is severely underutilized.
The event, which will become an annual feature, was intended to give members of the community an opportunity to publicly voice any concerns they may have about the services offered at the health facility and make recommendations on how those services can be improved. The activity also served as an avenue for the health centre’s staff to disseminate pertinent information to persons accessing services at the facility.
The health centre serves some 15000 people within the catchment area of Tucber, Smythfield and Angoy’s Avenue. With a staff comprising of one visiting doctor, one midwife, one community health worker and one visiting clinic attendant, the centre provides a host of services inclusive of Pre and Post Natal Care, Infant Clinic, Pre-school Clinic, Family Planning Clinic and Doctor’s Clinic. Additionally, the staff also make home visits to the elderly and shut-ins; and provide pharmaceuticals, dressings and immunization to those who need it.
However, despite being just over a year old, the health centre is already being classified as underutilized. In delivering the health centre report for the fiscal year 2013-2014, Midwife June Daniels disclosed that only 22 babies have joined the infant clinic, while 404 children ages 1 to 5 years have joined the Pre-school clinic.
The visiting doctor who is available at the centre every Thursday between 13:00 and 21:00hrs is also not being fully utilized by the community. Of the patients seen by the doctor over the one-year period, 23 were diabetics; 45 hypertensive; 16 had some form of skin disease; 8 were anaemic; 4 asthma cases; 12 suffered from gastritis; ear infections – 9; eye ailment – 1; infant care – 31; child care – 53; and arthritis – 12. Four persons had to be referred to the New Amsterdam Hospital (NAH).
Just over 200 patients were seen by the doctor during the twelve-month period; a figure deemed unsatisfactory by the Berbice Regional Health Authority (BRHA) given the fact the health centre serves a population of 15000.
Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo, the CEO of the BRHA, did not mince words during his remarks at the Health Centre Day as he expressed his dissatisfaction specifically with the underutilization of the doctor stationed at the primary health facility and warned the residents that if they continued to bypass the doctor stationed at the health centre and opt to seek treatment at the NAH, the doctor would be removed from the facility.
“Seeing one hundred or two hundred people in one year is not utilizing the skills and the time of the doctor effectively!” Mahadeo said. He warned that “there are other places that are crying for the doctor to be there” and that if the community does not need the doctor, the doctor would be removed from the health centre.
Baffled by the fact that the doctor was underutilized in a heavily populated area, Mahadeo said “the doctor who works here [AAHC] also works at the NAH”. He questioned why residents seem to “prefer to go see Dr. Ramnarine at the NAH rather than see Dr. Ramnarine at AAHC”. The residents were reminded that “it’s the same doctor; it’s the same treatment she is going to give you whether you come here [AAHC] to see the doctor or go to the NAH to see the doctor – the treatment is not going to be different”.
The residents were also told that “the Public Health Services of Guyana provide one kind of drugs across the board – so if you come here [AAHC] and get Panadol, the same Panadol you will get at NAH or in Linden”. Pleading with the residents to make full use of the visiting doctor, Mahadeo said “we brought this service here to make life easier for you”.
The Angoy’s Avenue Health Centre was commissioned to ease the load of the New Amsterdam Family Life Health Centre.