Guyana’s major public maternity facility is set to soon begin a $240 million remodelling and expansion makeover aimed at providing additional facilities for staff, expectant and new mothers and newborns.
Chief Executive Officer of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) Michael Khan told attendees yesterday, at the unveiling of a plaque and turning of the sod ceremony, that the project will significantly boost the health sector and especially the maternity unit.
Lamenting that mothers had to “double up” on beds, Khan explained that the expansion will see an additional 40 beds; a remodelled ground floor with training rooms, offices, a neonatal clinic and ‘doctor-on-call’ rooms, two operating theatres, a birthing room and a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on the top floor.
“The need has been, at times, overwhelming. As you are aware, high numbers of admissions have often forced us to resort to patients sharing beds so that we do not turn away women in need of care,” he said.
Khan pointed out that every year GPHC delivers over 60% of all births in the country and serves as the only referral institution for high-risk pregnancies and emergency cases, with no charge attached. As a result, he added, the hospital also feels the brunt of the criticisms from the public.
He said that while he was proud to state that the maternal mortality rate has been steadily declining, even one maternal death was too much and the hospital will work fervently to lower the numbers even more.
“The chance of a woman dying from a pregnancy-related cause depends on a wide spectrum of factors: access to comprehensive emergency obstetric facilities, including functionality of national referral system for high-risk and emergency cases; the availability of skilled human resources to attend delivery; the availability of necessary equipment and supplies; the quality of antenatal care and family planning services as well as postnatal care; and the ability of patients to fully understand and follow nurses and doctors’ instructions,” he stated.
“Most of these are, in turn, greatly affected by the functioning of the overall public health system, including existing management, supervisory, and monitoring tools. In order to improve maternal health care sustainably and hence reduce the number of maternal deaths, all of these elements need to be considered comprehensively; then, cognizant of the reality of finite resources, investment needs to be channelled to those solutions that are likely to have the greatest impact on magnitude and sustainability,” Khan added. At the ceremony, National Communications Network reporter Natasha Smith boasted of the work done by the GPHC’s maternal unit staff, detailing how the life of her premature son, who weighed 800 grammes at birth, was saved because of the dedication of the hospital’s team.
She related that sometime in 2011, she was admitted to the maternal facility with multiple complications while carrying twin boys. She said that although one of the babies died after delivery she believes the hospital did all it could and today she was grateful that her son, who “was small like a kitten” is a healthy active three-year-old.
For his part, Minister of Health Dr Bheri Ramsaran, who used his address to pay tribute to the men and women of the public healthcare system, scoffed at criticisms made of the hospital saying that it was trying its best within its means.
Ramsaran boasted that the hospital was excelling, although it is criticised heavily by the public. He noted that there were limitations and constraints.
“We are not Benny Hinn, the man that resurrects people; we have limitations and sometimes we are presented with ‘mission impossible,’” he stressed. He also used the occasion to campaign for the ruling party, saying that not only did government not have to seek international funding for the project, as it was all being done with government funds but it shows the commitment of the Donald Ramotar administration to safe motherhood. “That’s the way the PPP/has been approaching safe motherhood,” Ramsarran stressed.
According to the hospital CEO, the project which started on February 16, 2015 is expected to be completed by February 15, 2016. The contractor for the project is PD Contracting while the consultant responsible for the design and supervision is KALITECH INC.
The construction project, Khan said, will be the largest ever rehabilitation of the GPHC building.
Also attending the event were first Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar, prime mnisterial candidate for the incumbent PPP/C party Elisabeth Harper and representatives from UNFPA,UNICEF and other agencies.