GPHC staff reports ambush, assault at Craig

The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) yesterday said members of its staff were ambushed and assaulted by villagers of Craig, East Bank Demerara location on Thursday night, while transporting a discharged patient to his home.

Rural Constable Ragnauth Latchman (left) and resident Michelle Daniels point to the spot where the GPHC staff allegedly left the injured Premnauth Narine.

However, villagers strongly denied the carrying out of an attack, saying all they did was protest an attempt by hospital workers to leave a visibly ill patient lying on a street corner.

In a statement issued yesterday, the GPHC said that Premnauth Narine was admitted to the hospital for a third time in twelve months, on June 24, for an injury he reportedly sustained after falling in his bath. He was discharged on June 28, the GPHC stated, but up to Thursday, refused to leave the institution for home. Narine, according to GPHC, claimed not to be in contact with his relatives although he was visited daily by a woman who was listed on his chart-at all three admissions to the hospital-as his wife.

Hospital staff was subsequently forced to confiscate the man’s cellular phone until a relative made contact with the Social Workers’ Department. At the time of Narine’s discharge on June 28, the hospital noted, it was found that he had no medical problems, was mobile and his vital signs were normal.

As a result, Narine was given a date on which to return to the Surgical Outpatient Clinic while a medical social worker visited the Lot 99 Second Street, Craig address which had been listed for him at admission.  The worker informed his relatives “that he would be brought home” later Thursday. However, when they returned at about 7pm the house was in darkness, the gate chained and they were greeted by “an irate female villager who said that the occupants of the home had moved around 12 noon.” The woman began to verbally abuse the staff, the Hospital said, and she was subsequently joined by 18 to 19 other villagers who placed large obstacles such as bicycles, wood, garbage drums, in front of the ambulance. The villagers, GPHC further said, “started to throw sand and spat at the female Social Worker.” It was at this time that the police were called and they arrived between 30 and 45 minutes later.

Narine, the GPHC said, was returned to the ambulance the social worker, driver and attendants left “for they feared for their safety and lives.” Villagers also took pictures of the social worker as she executed her duty.

Over the years, the GPHC said, it has had “to face similar cases whereby relatives blatantly refuse to take their relatives in after they would have been discharged from the hospital…GPHC accommodates a total of approximately six to eight destitute and/or patients whose relatives refuse to take them home after discharge.” This problem also exists with patients who die in the hospital and whose relatives do not claim their bodies and take them to a funeral home. The GPHC said it is then forced to undertake the responsibility of providing a poor burial, which costs the hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly.

Dumped in mud

However, when Stabroek News visited the Craig location just after 3pm yesterday, Second Street residents alleged that the hospital employees attempted to leave Narine, who they say has still not recovered from his injuries, on the side of the road in the mud. “It was after I see these people dump this man in the mud that I get vex and intervened,” Michelle Daniels said.

Daniels lives next door to the Lot 99 address. Narine’s former girlfriend, according to Daniels, had moved from the address a while ago and only her mother and daughter remained there. When the ambulance showed up Thursday night, the woman said, the elderly woman and her granddaughter were not at home.

It had been raining earlier that day, the woman explained, and as a result the area was damp and muddy. After the ambulance arrived, the woman said, the social worker instructed the attendant to leave Narine in front the gate although it was clear no one was home. “This is a question of their principles and their humanity,” Daniels stated. “How can you just leave a sick man there on the side of the road? If they couldn’t keep him at the hospital then they should’ve admitted him to the palms on Brickdam.”

Daniels further said that when the social worker visited earlier that day, she spoke with the 16-year-old daughter of Narine’s former girlfriend. At no time, she insisted, did the social worker speak with the teenager’s grandmother who was the only adult in the home.

The teen told this newspaper that Narine, who is in his late 50s, was not related to them and she had explained this to the social worker when the woman visited. However, the social worker, she said, told her that she didn’t care about that and Narine would be delivered there.

Shortly after 7pm on Thursday when the hospital employees dropped Narine on the roadside residents in the street came out to protest on the man’s behalf. “We did come out and residents did put bicycles and other objects to stop the ambulance from leaving but never at anytime did anyone of us abuse, pelt sand at or spat at any of those workers,” Rural Constable (RC) Ragnauth Latchman told Stabroek News. The RC alleged that it was the social worker who attacked one resident after that person took a picture of the hospital staff attempting to leave Narine lying at the street corner. It was residents, Latchman said, who called in the police. “The hospital employees and Daniels who they were saying abused this social worker went to the station. Narine was taken in the ambulance…and would you believe that they tried to leave the man at the police station too? The police had to tell them it was their duty to take him where he could get proper care,” Latchman reported.

Latchman, Daniels and several other residents are calling on GPHC to launch an investigation into the matter. They are insisting that it was the “inhumane and unprofessional actions” of their employees which caused residents to block the street and call in the police.

Narine, according to the RC who lives in Second Street as well, was injured at work several months ago, then during an accident and more recently at home. The man, according to him, cannot move and is unable to do much for himself.

When this newspaper visited GPHC yesterday afternoon, staff there was unable to say whether Narine was still at the institution.

The Police Public Relations Department said it had not yet received any information on the incident and could not pronounce on it.