Please permit me space in your letter column to write about our experiences while our brother was an inpatient at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.
Let me begin by stating that I did my internship at GPHC. I am presently working in the United Kingdom as a consultant in Acute Internal medicine.
I visited Guyana during the Christmas holidays and arrived on 22nd December 2017. While I was at the airport in New York I received a message that my brother had to be admitted to hospital. On arriving in Guyana, I immediately went to see my brother. What I was greeted by was very upsetting. My brother was on a bed with no bed sheet and a pamper that was overflowing with faeces and urine. I went to the nurse and politely asked for some gloves to tidy him. I also asked for a bed sheet. The nurse who was on her phone and obviously annoyed at being disturbed, rudely told me that the hospital has no bed sheets and then pointed in the direction of a box of gloves. I proceeded to take three pairs of gloves since my other two brothers also needed gloves. Her response is ‘ wha you going with all a da’. We bought three sets of bed sheets for him to make him comfortable.
On returning the following day we discovered that the unused bed sheets had been stolen. We also discovered that his mobile phone had been stolen. We also found that our brother was without a bed sheet and his pamper was overflowing with faeces and urine. I had to go through the same process of asking for gloves and was greeted with the same response. As a result we decided to purchase a box of gloves.
On the third day we saw that our brother had a laceration on his arm which was sutured. On asking him how he got it he was not sure. This was not surprising since he was confused. We asked the nurse about the laceration and she hadn’t an idea. Of course on our arrival he had no bed sheet and his pamper was overflowing with faeces and urine. Of course we had to bring fresh bed sheets from home since the hospital hadn’t any bed sheets.
On the fourth day one of my brothers visited in the morning and found my brother on the floor in a pool of blood with a nurse not too far away dispensing drugs. On politely making queries he was advised that he was not on the floor long. That was clearly irrelevant since it was obvious that he was in some discomfort and action should have been taken immediately. Of course on arrival he had no bed sheet and his pamper was overflowing with faeces and urine.
On the fifth day our experiences were no different. Our brother was without a bed sheet despite us bringing in several bed sheets and he was covered in faeces. That very day I noticed his drug chart at his bed side. I read through it and found that he was not on a critical medication. I queried this with the nurse who rudely chastised me for reading the drug chart and told me I have to speak with the doctor. I was told the doctor was not available but I should return early the following day and wait on the doctor until the ward round was completed.
On the sixth day I recognised that my brother was dying and had a few hours to live. We wanted to spend his last hours with him but were not allowed to. In the UK our patients when dying are placed in a side room and the relatives are allowed to spend the last hours or days with them. I recognise that the ward does not have side rooms but at the bare minimum we should have been allowed to be with him during his last hours. Of course on our arrival he had no bed sheet and his pamper was overflowing with faeces and urine.
Our brother died alone a few hours after we left. He was 34 years old. It is sad the way the hospital treated a terminally ill patient. Also it was very embarrassing that a hospital that boasts of making progress, a hospital that boasts of performing renal transplant surgeries, a hospital that boasts of performing coronary angiograms, a hospital that boasts of renal dialysis, and a hospital that boasts of performing coronary bypass surgeries did not have simple bed sheets during the period our brother was an inpatient and possibly beyond.
I procrastinated in writing this letter because the pain was too much but it had to be done. Patients should be allowed to live and die with dignity and comfort. Unfortunately this was not afforded to our brother.
Dr. Mark Devonish MBBS MSC
Consultant Acute Internal Medicine
Nottingham University Hospitals