Region 5 RHO reassigned to health ministry dep’t in city

Dr. Steven Chefoon, the Regional Health Officer (RHO) of Region Five who was among doctors named in a complaint over a former APNU+AFC councillor’s alleged abuse of her office to access prescription pain medication, is now stationed at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

“He is at the GPHC but the department under which he is falls under the Ministry of Public Health,” ministry spokesman Terrence Esseboom confirmed to Stabroek News.

Sources knowledgeable of the transfer said that Chefoon’s expertise in data management systems and other areas were the reason for his transfer as he is credited with the positive turnaround of the Region Five healthcare system. As a result, he has been brought to the capital to assist the ministry but it is unclear for how long.

“He is one of the best RHOs in the country and had a management system unlike any other,” a source said.

Acting in Chefoon’s stead as Region Five RHO is Dr. Andy Da Silva.

Cheefoon was one of three doctors named in a complaint to the Medical Council of Guyana by People’s Progressive Party/Civic  Member of Parliament Harry Gill over former APNU+AFC councillor Carol Joseph’s alleged abuse of her office to access prescription pain medication.

Joseph resigned from the Region Five Regional Democratic Council on April 21st last year, two days after Stabroek News published a report about her alleged abuse of medication. The matter had been drawn to the public’s attention by Gill after nurse Sherlyn Marks reported to her superiors and others that her complaints to senior health officials about the Joseph case had been ignored.

Marks was abruptly transferred by Region Five Regional Executive Officer Ovid Morrison after the news item on Joseph’s case appeared in this newspaper. Morrison’s transfer of the nurse has been condemned and there have been calls for it to be rescinded. The Ministry of Public Health subsequently said that Marks had breached public service rules and that it had sent her to the Department of the Public Service for action.

Gill pointed out in his complaint to the Medical Council that Marks had written to then Minister of Public Health Dr George Norton on the matter on December 13th, 2016. In that letter, Marks had said she was being harassed and intimidated by Joseph because of the complaint she had lodged with Dr Chefoon about the medication that was to be administered to Joseph. Marks also sent her letter to a number of other regional and health officials who did nothing about it.

Gill noted that the Medical Practitioners (Code of Conduct and Standards of Practice) Regulations 2008 – Responsibilities to Patients, Regulation 7- paragraph (5) states, “A medical practitioner shall not expose his patients to risks which may arise from a compromise of their own health status (eg dependence on alcohol or other drugs, HIV infection, hepatitis and the like).” In addition, Regulation 36- paragraph (11) reads, “The Medical Council may regard the prescription or supply of drugs of dependence otherwise than in the course of bona fide treatment as a serious professional misconduct.”

Gill urged that the Medical Council conduct the investigation, in keeping with its own Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, to protect the integrity of the medical profession.

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