A source in the Orealla community, East Berbice-Corentyne is claiming that the area has been without a permanent doctor since late 2016.
However, the Regional Health Director, Jevaughn Stephen when contacted last Thursday stated that a doctor is assigned to the area, but he is currently not residing there since work is being carried out at the doctor’s living quarters.
According to Stephen, the doctor had been in the community up to late December 2017, before proceeding on annual leave. When the doctor returned, work was being done on his living quarters. Stephen noted that he was informed this week by the Region that they are still working on the doctor’s living quarters.
Stephen told Stabroek News that on February 12, a medical outreach will be held in the area and the health committee will be taken to interact with the residents, so as to ascertain accurate information on the issue. The Health Director also said that the doctor will be taken back into the community on the said day.
Despite Stephen’s claim that a doctor was stationed in the area as late as December, 2017, back in May of the said year, Orealla residents had protested at the Skeldon Public Hospital, calling on health officials to secure a doctor for the community.
Regional Vice Chairman, Denis Deroop in an interview with Stabroek News last Thursday stated that he believes excuses are being brought to the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), as it relates to this specific issue which has been raised several times at this level in the last year.
Deroop however, claimed that the Region has spent a sum of money to complete works on the accommodation for the doctor’s quarters in the area.
“As [of] November there were some issues that the quarters were not good enough. We spent some money and fixed the quarters there, now we hearing another issue again,” the vice-chairman observed.
Deroop noted that if the health services were unable to place a doctor in the area, the least they could have done was put a “medic and a proper pharmacist there that could give the medication and so on.”
Deroop added that at the January, 2018 statutory meeting, Stephen told the council that a medic would have been placed in the area. However, at Thursday’s meeting, Deroop recalled, “… now we hear that PSC (Public Service Commission) did not give approval. The next time we meet he will simply say that he didn’t get approval as yet, while all of this is happening, people are simply suffering.”
Deroop argued that the matter is an administrative one and the Director of Health has “failed to address the issue,” and after a period of time, the health committee took over the matter. “It was decided at the RDC that the health committee go in now and try to resolve the issue. I see today (last Thursday) he (Stephen) promised to deal with it again, but he had his fair share [of time] for more than a year and he did not deal with the situation.”
“Can you imagine a remote area, how hard would it be to get a medical person if you have an emergency? Deroop queried. “You have children there, people doing forestry business if they get bitten by anything…,” he noted, while stressing that the issue needs to be dealt with urgently.
A resident of the area, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that he has been pleading on behalf of the residents for the whole of last year for a permanent doctor for the community. He explained that presently there are two health workers in the area who try their best to assist the residents.
While the officials of Region Six battle over the issue, the residents of the Orealla Community are still without a permanent doctor in case of major emergencies.