On Monday the first set of patients will be able to access the East Bank Demerara Regional Hospital which was officially opened by President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday at Diamond.
The hospital which was constructed at a cost of $140 million is the first one to be established in the Diamond community and is said to be a total diagnostic centre. The hospital has installed a walkway and an area specifically for persons in wheelchairs. The hospital will be run initially by 30 Cuban doctors and technicians, aided by Guyanese who will make up the support staff. Some of the facilities being offered are 24-hour ambulance service, surgery, ultrasound, ophthalmology, X-ray service, dental service, Accident and Emergency (A&E) care and a pharmacy among others. It also has an eight-bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
At a small ceremony held at the hospital, the President, who gave the feature address, expressed his appreciation to the Cuban Government. He stated that it was a difficult road for construction of the facility, with some shoddy work being done by the contractors and persons who overlooked the project but nevertheless the hospital was completed. He said that the hospital was badly needed in the Diamond area and that it will support the plans for the community turning into a township. The President said that they recently sold a piece of land to construct a bank in the area, built a school and a police station and it was all in an effort to stop persons from moving to Georgetown and to enable them to access services in their community.
The Head of State also said that the government has been preparing a new strategic plan which will focus on equity and will be people-centred with emphasis on quality health care and accountability. The Head of State said that with the infusion of Guyanese doctors from the Cuba scholarship programme there will be a need to work in partnership with the private sector. He added that the plan has to be people-centred and that rigid standards will have to be set for the kind of health care they need.
The President stated that there has to be accountability and persons have to know whether they are getting the best health care available. He added that the Ministry must have a protocol with the Georgetown Hospital where persons can get value for their money.
Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy told Stabroek News that the hospital is capable of delivering a wide range of services and is a total diagnostic centre. He added that it is for outpatient diagnostic treatment and limited inpatient diagnostic.
Earlier, Dr Bheri Ramsaran, Minister in the Ministry of Health, stated that based on new cooperation between Guyana and Cuba the possibility of four diagnostic and treatment centres came up. He stated that it’s an expansion of existing cooperation in the area of health between the two countries. He added that Cuba has also decided to give Guyana a strong biomedical team led by engineers supported by technicians who will be here for five years to help maintain the equipment. Dr Ramsaran also noted that the three other centres are being constructed at Suddie, Leonora and Mahai-cony. This, he said, will be a significant boost to the health sector in Guyana and will deliver better care to citizens. He added that it will also take the burden off the George-town Public hospital.
Speaking also at the ceremony was Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba F.A Marchante who stated that when all of the centres are operational the people of Guyana will have a better life.
Also present at the ceremony were Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Labour Minister Manzoor Nadir and Presidential Adviser on Governance, Gail Teixeira, a former Minister of Health.
This newspaper also spoke to a few residents who expressed their joy at having a hospital in their own community. One woman explained that the health centre at Grove tended to the needs of babies and pregnant mothers. She stated that they would usually have to travel to Georgetown but now that they have a hospital it will be easier to get treatment. One man with a badly swollen jaw stated that he was going to go to the hospital on Monday to see whether he will be able to have surgery done on his jaw.