With the majority of the slated rehabilitation works completed for the National Ophthalmology Hospital at Port Mourant, Corentyne, it is expected to resume full operation in a few weeks’ time, according to Region Six’s Director of Regional Health Services Jevaughn Stephens.
Stephens told Stabroek News that presently minor laser surgeries, screening and testing, among other things, are being done at the hospital, which has about 16 staff members. “We still awaiting some more cataract kits to start doing cataract surgeries. We do anticipate within weeks we would be able to rectify the same,” he said.
PPP/C councillor, Zamal Hussain recently suggested that mechanisms be put in place to have the Region Six Regional Democratic Council (RDC) supervise the facility, while criticising the delay in the resumption of full operations.
Hussain, who chairs the Regional Health Committee, had explained that over 2,000 persons are waiting to do surgeries at the hospital. “Since three months ago we were given a commitment for the opening of the National Ophthalmology Hospital but to date the Public Health Ministry has not been successful in doing that. So, I am asking that if there could be some mechanisms in place [so] that we take the National Ophthalmology Hospital under the regional budget to ensure that this particular hospital is up and running,” he said.
“I think the Ministry of Public Health is failing to ensure this particular facility is up and running. This is three years plus and not a single cataract surgery is being done at the hospital,” he further said, while noting that a lot of poor persons “need their eyes fixed” and they cannot afford to do so privately.
The Regional Chairman David Armogan had also suggested that the ophthalmologist stationed at the New Amsterdam Public Hospital be supported so as to clear up the backlog of patients. Armogan said, “We have a very good ophthalmologist at the New Amsterdam hospital. If we give that gentleman the requisite drugs to do the surgeries, I think he can do five to six surgeries per day because we have a good ophthalmology theatre at the New Amsterdam Hospital and [a] good doctor there, why not utilise the guy?”
However, when questioned, Stephens said in his opinion the ophthalmologist is working to capacity at the town’s hospital. “If given the added resources and equipment, he is capable. However, at the moment, he is working to capacity with what he have.” He added, “He (ophthalmologist) is taxed at the New Amsterdam Hospital, this is my opinion.”
Additionally, Stephens, when questioned about what the staff was doing while the hospital was out of operation, clarified that at no time was the hospital out of operation, since registering and testing, among other things, were always being done.
Stephens also noted that the Ministry of Public Health is in contact with the Cuban government seeking some technical support. “We would have discussed with the Cuban government for some technical support, all that is in stream,” he explained.