Region Six councillor questions continued delay in reopening of ophthalmology hospital

-regional health director says minor surgeries being done

The delay in the re-opening of the National Ophthalmology Hospital in Port Mourant, Corentyne has caused concern for some members of the Region Six Regional Democratic Council (RDC), according to the Chairman of the Regional Health Committee Zamal Hussain. Hussain, in a letter published in Monday’s edition of the Stabroek News, questioned the delay.

In his letter, Hussain said a  commitment to have the hospital reopened was given by Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence several weeks ago but to date this has not been done.

He further noted that a similar commitment was made by Director of Regional Health Services Jevaughn Stephens at the April statutory RDC meeting, which was told that the reopening was slated for the next two weeks for cataract surgeries to the public. 

Again, he said, while this was welcomed news for those who have been awaiting surgery over the past two years, it would not be so.

“Unfortunately, to date the National Ophthalmology Hospital is unable to commence cataract surgeries. This was confirmed when a senior government official called the doctors who said that only screening of patients is been carried out and no surgeries,” Hussain wrote.

When contacted, Hussain said, “When I asked about the delay I was told that they are awaiting medical supplies; it’s been three years plus since people were able to use the facility to undergo necessary surgery.”

“We get a lot of questions from people who want to know what’s going on but we don’t have any information to give them,” he added.  Meanwhile, Stephens, in an invited comment, refuted Hussain’s claims as he explained that the hospital has been facilitating minor cataract surgeries.

He did note that that a decision was made to do a full rehabilitation and maintenance of the operating theatre. In addition, Stephens says there are engineers from the Ministry of Public Health currently working on the building. He could not, however, give a timeframe for the completion of works, saying, “I do not want to commit to a timeframe.”

The National Ophthalmology Hospital had been closed in 2014 following what was suspected to be an electrical fire, which destroyed an operating room at the facility.  

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