The Plegt Anker Health Centre, at East Bank Berbice, has finally commenced operations, while the Number 76 Village Health Centre is expected to be opened in a few weeks’ time.
This announcement was made by Chairman of the Region Six Health Committee Zamal Hussain at a Regional Democratic Council (RDC) meeting last Thursday.
Last month, Regional Vice Chairman Denis Deroop said that it was unacceptable that both health centres, although completed, were still not in operation while residents of the surrounding areas were dire need of their services
A $16 million contract for the construction of the Plegt Anker Health Centre was awarded to Dennis Tahal in 2016, while the $20 million contract for the health centre located at the Number 76 Village, Corentyne, was awarded to Memorex in 2017.
Director of Regional Health Services, Jevaughn Stephens, had told the RDC in November that “plumbing and electrical work” had not been completed at either facility, thereby delaying their use.
However, Hussain on Thursday informed the council that Stephens had confirmed to him that the Plegt Anker Health Centre had commenced operation, while the Number 76 Village, Corentyne Health Centre is expected to commence operation by December 17th.
A visit by this newspaper to the Plegt Anker Health Centre subsequently revealed that cleaning works were ongoing and there was a large maribunta infestation. Nandika Tomby, who has resided in the village for over 12 years said, “This health centre never worked before. Nobody never come here before. This is the first time them come here.” The woman said the building had been constructed nearly two years prior.
Meanwhile, Hussain, who presented the Health Committee’s report at Thursday’s RDC meeting, also noted that there are about 176 vacancies in the region’s health sector.
He added that the committee was advocating that the persons responsible for employment should put systems in place to fill the vacancies as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, after reports emerged that the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the New Amsterdam Public Hospital had gone on leave one day after taking up the position, Hussain said the CEO was present at the Health Committee’s meeting on Wednesday and claimed that she was on “official business.”
However, Hussain stated, that her responsibilities at the hospital should come before any sort of “official business.”
He stressed, that persons who are put in such positions, which are funded by taxpayers money should work to the best of their ability to benefit the citizens. “If she is being employed she should execute her duties irrespective of any other duty. She should execute her duty, which is mandated and paid for by taxpayers,” he added.
Hussain also claimed that his remarks at the health meeting were erroneously quoted in the committee’s report, which was signed by Stephens.
In response, Stephens argued, that what was quoted in the report was what was said at the meeting.
PPP/C Councillor, Vineshri Khirodhar, Medical Superintendent of the New Amsterdam Public Hospital, who came under fire last month for reportedly allowing 18 doctors at the hospital to proceed on leave all at the same time, also called for councillors, who are a part of the health committee, to raise issues regarding health at the committee’s meeting instead of “throwing it out” at the RDC level.
She highlighted several times that the matter concerning the approval of leave was picked up by the media operatives who were present at that RDC meeting.
Regional Chairman David Armogan pointed out that Stephens was present when the issue was raised “and he did not object; in fact, he supported those points.” “We have to go with that,” Armogan added,
However, Khirodhar argued, “That is not in the RDC minutes. It is not in the RDC minutes. I went through the minutes five times but it was carried through all the media houses and I don’t know where that figure came from and that is what I’m trying to validate.”
Stephens, who was also present at the November statutory meeting, had said that he was unaware that approval was given for the complement of doctors to proceed on leave and stated that it was only realised that the doctors were on leave after the then acting Medical Superintendent took over.