Staff attached to the Psychiatric Hospital located in New Amsterdam (NA) are at their wits end dealing with the conditions they are being forced to endure on a daily basis at the facility.
Yesterday morning several staff participated in a three-hour-long ‘sit out’ outside of the hospital, after a patient reportedly attacked a nurse within the facility’s compound.
Stabroek News was told that the patient who was transferred to the hospital sometime last week, made a hole in the wall of one of the single rooms in the compound. However, with two senior citizen security guards, not much could have been done to restrain the patient who reportedly then used a piece of wood to attack a male nurse who was in the area at the time.
As a result of this, staff at the institution thought it best to refuse to continue to work
until a senior official paid some attention to the conditions. Stabroek News was informed that the Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region Six after being apprised of the situation, visited the hospital and held a meeting with the staff, after which they returned to work.
However, when this newspaper visited the institution, staff were reluctant to speak, since they claimed that the REO had instructed them not to speak with any media. Stabroek News then made several attempts to speak with the administrator of the hospital, who also stated that the REO had left instructions that no one was to speak to the media.
One of the major issues that has been affecting the staff for several years now is the lack of security at the facility. According to information gathered, oftentimes the issue would be raised with those in charge and promises to increase the level of security in the compound would be made, but nothing was ever done to change the situation.
One person told Stabroek News, that for over ten years now the same security measures are in place at the facility, despite the recent event where a woman was attacked and killed in the compound. There are also reports of intruders entering the compound and interfering with patients and then escaping, the source said.
Meanwhile, Jevaughn Stephens, Director of Regional Health Services when contacted refused to speak on the issue.
However, Regional Chairman of Region Six, David Armogan, noted that the altercation had been brought to his attention, and as such, he said that the security presence would have to be increased in the compound. He said, “A patient managed to break out a wall and run around the compound, he was sent from Georgetown and he is considered somewhat violent, he was kept in an area with other persons who are considered violent as well. The guard was called in, but the kind of security we have working everywhere in the region leaves a lot to be desired, and the guard, of course, became more frightened and could not apprehend the patient”.
He stated, that the staff as a result of the incident felt unsafe and requested a meeting with the REO. “The REO went and they came to an agreement that we are going to have extra security placed there to make sure this incident doesn’t happen in future,” he stated, whilst adding, “We’re going to have to get security at the gate, and probably at different wards in the compound.”
Armogan opined that perhaps a private firm should be hired to take over security at the psychiatric hospital. The chairman noted that he is puzzled as to how quickly a patient was able to break a wall. He said, faulty structures should be reported. Stabroek News was then able to confirm with the source that oftentimes staff would report faulty structures and other issues to the health administration in the region, however, nothing much is ever done.
With only one psychiatric hospital in the country, it begs the question why isn’t more attention being paid to the institution in order to improve the facility and strengthen security in an effort to ensure the safety of both staff and patients.