Medicine shortage at Herstelling Health Centre - elderly patients feel the squeeze

A number of elderly patients who frequent the Herstelling Health Centre, located on the East Bank of Demerara, are complaining that for the past three months they have not been receiving quality treatment or medication.

Some of the patients waiting outside of the facility to see the doctor on duty.

Reports are that the medex who is attached to this health centre is currently on maternity leave, however; even before she left, patients began to experience problems in having tests conducted and obtaining proper medication from the facility. Kaieteur News understands that many patients are being given prescriptions where they have to purchase the medication instead of being given the medicines.

“We are pensioners. We come here from 04:30am and 05:00am to get test and treatment. We were told many times not to eat and they have us here all hours… until like 13:00hrs or 14:00hrs… and then we get looked at. Many times they giving us short tablets. Like if we got to get six different types. We only getting two and have to buy the other four. It ain’t cheap to do this all the time,” complained one woman.

When this newspaper visited the health centre yesterday morning, a number of patients were lined up outside of the building, awaiting their turn for treatment Another elderly woman explained that she has been visiting the said health centre for the past two months and arrives at 05:00 am to ‘line up’ since there is no organized manner in which the facility is being run. “Dey don’t have no number system here. If you and dem is friends dey looking at you first. It is after 10am and only seven people gone in. Dey don’t have no medication and dey don’t do no dressing here when you get cuts. We got to go Public Hospital. When we go there it very costly to travel and den dem telling we how Herstelling suppose to do dressing here. But dey don’t!” she argued.

The Herstelling Health Centre

Some others stated that the centre did not have coated aspirins or ‘B-complex’ tablets to distribute to those who needed it. “Dey need to send drugs here. Dis centre ain’t got nothing here. Dey don’t even have enough strips to do the tests for diabetics. Imagine that! And most ah we hey coming fuh treatment fuh we diabetes. So what we going to do now?” one female patient asked.

A man related his story to Kaieteur News. “I went to Diamond Hospital and it had too much people. I went to Woodlands, they send me to Balwant Singh to do heart test. Balwant Singh dem tell me I got to pay $1M for treatment etc because I get heart blockage. I tek in back (got sick again) and went Georgetown Public Hospital in June and I was using heart tablet. But apparently it was building up my pressure. I went to Eccles to a private doctor who crush up the tablets and tell me I was being treated for the wrong thing. De young doctors dem don’t seem to know nothing. So much money being spent here and dey don’t have medication for we. Dey tell you come here and we come ‘cause we are poor people… and den dey can’t help we.”

A nurse on duty told the crowd (while Kaieteur News was present) that they did not have anymore test strips for diabetics to be tested. This caused a lot of patients to complain. “At public (Georgetown Hospital) dem giving diabetic people machine, dey giving cholesterol tablets but hey dey ain’t even gat de basics. So much money spending on drugs and hey dey have a big health clinic with nothing. The treatment hey is very bad. The place ain’t even clean. The last time dis happen dem seh dem nah gat transportation to bring de drugs. Now dem saying is not dem fault it ain’t got drugs,” added another elderly man.

When Kaieteur News approached the nurse at the centre for a comment, she insisted that the health centre had enough drugs to supply a certain intake of patients. “We have enough for the day, but it how the patients are being looked at that determines how the limited medication is distributed, I mean the ones who reach first will get the advantage of securing medications.” said the nurse.

Minister within the Ministry of Health, Dr Bheri Ramsarran, when contacted for a comment, promised to do so today. Meanwhile Regional Chairman, Clement Corlette, explained that he did not know of this situation until Kaieteur News brought it to his attention. “I am not aware of this happening at the Herstelling Health Centre. I spoke with Doctor Waddle who also stated that she was not aware of this”. Kaieteur News understands that the relevant authorities will now be looking into the matter.

Original Post
Ignoring the seriously injured at Skeldon Hospital

Dear Editor,

After reading the article of a Berbice family “Stunned by young girl’s death in Georgetown hospital”, please allow me to share my recent experience with your readers, as a Guyanese-American who lives in New York and was visiting Guyana a few weeks ago.

My brother and I were driving to Corriverton one evening and as we approached # 51 Village, on the Corentyne we saw a huge crowd and decided to stop. We wanted to see the commotion. We immediately spotted the source; an Afro Guyanese was lying in a pool of blood! The crowd that gathered just stood around gawking and talking loudly. No one even attempted to render assistance. There was a wedding party going on in the same village with everyone having a good time, but no one was willing to help.

We picked up the helpless man and took him to the nearest hospital which was, in Skeldon. He was unable to walk or stand and bleeding profusely. The next morning we paid him a visit. It was appalling to realize that the same way we dropped him off was the same way we found him. No medical attention was rendered at all!

After our startling discovery, I asked to see the doctor who was in charge. I was told that she was busy and had no time to talk to me. I told the nurse that I will call Dr. Mahadeo, CEO of Berbice Regional Health Authority in New Amsterdam to report the matter.
Upon hearing that, the doctor came out with her cell phone to her ears. After a heated argument she said to me that nothing is wrong with the man, there is nothing she can do to help him, and there is no one to take care of him, that he has to wait until Monday. She refused to give me her name.

After the argument got more heated one of the nurses mentioned that the doctor’s name is Dr. Balkarran. After this totally needless exchange, I gave the injured man’s mother $20,000 to take her son to New Amsterdam hospital and seek further medical attention. Upon arrival at New Amsterdam he was examined and found to have several fractured ribs and a punctured lung, which was taking in fluid. It seems as if some of these doctors placed in charge of caring for the helpless are trained to ignore, instead of to assist. Someone in the small crowd that gathered said. “Give her a couple hundred US dollars and see how fast she tek care a de man.” Really? Another person, whispered in my ear, “She was out last night having a good time while she should be at the hospital working.”

I wonder where is the oversight of these doctors who are in charge of the hospitals at night. Someone is snoring at the wheel. How many more deaths have to occur before this come to an end!!!

Concerned Guyanese-American


I can only hope that this is really not so...I hope the authorities will respond with their side of the story.
albert, I am posting your response in advance. No payment required.



 Government expended $13.4 billion in 2010 towards the implementation of the National Health Sector Strategy 2008-2012.

 $1.3 billion was expended for the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of health care facilities in 2010.

 Over $280 million was expended on training, while more than 150 new health workers entered the public health sector contributing to improved doctors and nurses’ population ratio.


 $14 billion has been allocated to the health sector

 Government has budgeted to inject $345 million into training activities, which will provide for an additional 250 professional nurses being trained and 140 clinical and technical staff, while over 280 students in various health disciplines are currently in training across the various schools.

 1 billion has been budgeted for the construction and maintenance of health sector buildings and infrastructure nationwide

 Storage bond in Diamond will be completed in 2011

 $235 million has been budgeted for the completion of the GPHC inpatient facility. Additionally, facilities at Enmore Polyclinic, West Demerara Hospital, Leguan, and Oscar Joseph District Hospitals will be upgraded.
Local health system has had successes but still has a long way to go

Dear Editor,

She died on August 11, 2011 at 04:30 hrs. When her daughter, Roseanne, went to the hospital at 6 o’clock that morning, her bed was empty and the mattress turned down. She instinctively knew what that meant. Upon enquiring from the nurse in charge she was told that her mother was dead; she had died a couple of hours before. In many ways Janet Mohamed, aka Maamie, was a victim of a combination of circumstances: the relatively limited training of the doctors in Guyana; a health care system still struggling to achieve professionalism and a sizable population of poorly educated patients.

Maamie had been complaining of pain in the lower abdomen for a while. She was admitted to the Mahaicony Hospital and given painkillers and the ever present saline, and told she had gallstones. She also suffered from high blood pressure and high cholesterol which the doctors told her prevented her from being operated on. Meanwhile, she had to bear the pain. She had to have her blood pressure and cholesterol lowered before they could operate. The day she was discharged she was readmitted again because of pain – the sedatives and painkillers had worn off. This cycle of hospital admittances and discharges – sometimes self discharges – continued for a couple of months.

She went through the same routine at the Fort Wellington Hospital. She was admitted for pain, was given saline, painkillers and sedatives and the usual complement of medications to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol. When she thought she was better she obtained a discharge and went home. That same evening she went back to the Mahaicony Hospital. The pain was too much. By this time the Cuban trained doctors were at their wits end trying to figure out what to do. They received a call from Beverley Harper from Rotary in Georgetown. Beverley had contacted Dr Bheri Ramsaran, the Junior Minister of Health who in turn lit a fire under the doctors at Mahaicony. This caused the doctors to promptly refer her to the Georgetown Hospital.

At the Georgetown Hospital Maamie was admitted to the psychiatric ward, allegedly as a result of the referral letter from Mahaicony, so she decided to go to a private hospital. She went to St Joseph’s Mercy in Georgetown. She was told she had to spend a week there in order to diagnose her condition. After about five days she was prepped for surgery. Moments before the surgery the doctor notified her that he could not operate because she only had a fifty-fifty chance. She was sent home again. Total cost: over $150,000. Her life savings were slowly becoming depleted and she had the prospect of having to pay the private doctor for each clinic visit.

Next stop: Balwant Singh‘s Hospital. Same routine: admission; hospital bill; discharge. She finally ended up at Mahaicony Hospital. Her money had run out. After a few days she was discharged again. Her final admission was to the Georgetown Hospital. She spent a few days there and was discharged in a body bag. Maamie left behind a husband, nine children, one of whom has a heart defect and needs care for the rest of her life, and two adopted children who were orphaned when her brother died of poisoning. She had had a limited education, and her own parents could not read and write. She worked hard digging coconuts. Her hardened demeanor was a result of her hard life. She developed an abrasiveness that was her defence mechanism. Yet, despite such a front, she was a true mother.

Even though Guyana’s health care system has made tremendous strides over the past two decades, it is not enough to match those of its sister Caribbean nations. According to the World Health Organization, Guyana spends $133US per capita on health care. While this is small when compared to Barbados at $1,041US, there has been an improvement since 1990 when health care spending was far less. Add to this the difficult terrain that one has to traverse to reach the rural communities, then this per capita spending is just a drop in the bucket.

In 2006 President, Bharrat Jagdeo signed an agreement with Cuba whereby Cuba would assist in building and running a set of five health facilities in Guyana. Cuban doctors were to run these facilities while Guyanese scholarship recipients were being trained as doctors to take over. Five years later the doctors are back and attached to the various hospitals in the country. If Mahaicony is to be used as a measurement of the success of this programme then it must be admitted that improvements have been made. For the first time the Mahaicony Hospital has its own X-ray department, its own ultrasound department, its own lab to perform blood tests, an improved emergency and ICU department, Cuban trained Guyanese doctors, and if the increase in patient load is a measurement of success, then Mahaicony has improved, with patients leaving the long waiting lines in Georgetown for this health facility. .

However, the three or four doctors are general practitioners, and their salary is not becoming of a doctor. They catch the hire car to and from work just like any other public employee. For most of them the opportunity to study to be a doctor via a fully paid scholarship was a lifetime opportunity they could not pass up. And now they are in Guyana as a result of their scholarship contracts. The opportunities for professional development are mainly limited to local sessions. They cannot join the brain-drain that has been leaching this country for the past 40 years, therefore they stay and attend to the masses like Maamie.

Maamie’s death certificate listed her direct cause of death as cardiopulmonary arrest (heart attack). An antecedent cause of death was listed as chronic renal failure (kidney failure). It should be noted here that her feet were beginning to swell about one month before her death and nothing noticeable was done to assist in alleviating this. Her other significant conditions contributing to death were listed as diabetes mellitus and hypertension. For most of us looking in it may as well be lack of education, lack of proper diagnoses, lack of professional doctors who can sit a patient down and explain her condition, and most of all a lack of will among the masses to demand a health care system that despite its enormous successes, still has a long way to go to avoid deaths such as that of Janet Mohamed.

Yours faithfully,
Sharir Chan

Originally posted by warrior:
these health centre is made for the guyanese poor helpless and stupid poor and helpless i can see but stupid i cannot figure out i will wait until after the election to see how much more is still stupid

Unfortunately, most poor Guyanese are so used to poor medical service that they do not have any good service to compare it.
They speak under their breath about the bad service and dont know how to complain effectively. Thus the system take advantage of them and not much change.
Overseas Guyanese gets angry at the way their relatives are treated, but no one person seems to be in charge to make meaningful change, when they complain.
Most PPP officials have strong overseas connections and would easily move, if the PPP lose the election. In the mean time they feed off the gravy train, on the backs of the poor.
GPHC admits poor communications in maternity death

The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) has acknowledged that there was a breakdown in communication between some healthcare practitioners and the family of 21-year-old Shinella Clarke, who died on September 6, 2011 at the facility after undergoing a surgery. According to Michael Khan, Chief Executive Officer, after reading Kaieteur News article entitled ‘Berbice family stunned by young girl’s death at GPHC’ he summoned all senior staff of the hospital’s Gynecology Department to a meeting. The CEO related that during that meeting it was discovered that there was insufficient communication between the practitioners and the aggrieved family.

Khan asserted that he reminded the practitioners of the importance of proper communication with family members especially those who passed away at the facility. He emphasized that just a few words can go a far way in consoling family members. He pointed out that with proper communication about circumstances surrounding the patient’s aliment or death could prevent family members from involving the media. “This is not to say that the hospital is opposing a family of any patient the right to contact the media,” Khan noted.

The CEO stated that Clarke was referred from the Skeldon Hospital to New Amsterdam Hospital to GPHC on September 6, 2011. She arrived at the facility at 01:13h for management of abdominal tenderness with guarding, and query for ruptured Ectopic pregnancy. He said that Clarke was operated on and after surgery her condition was critical. She was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). It was noted that Clarke was provided with four (4) units of packed cells. The young woman subsequently died.

When Clarke’s relatives contacted Kaieteur News they related their frustration about several issues but focused primarily on the fact that the hospital did not inform them of Clarke’s death. They related that after hours of waiting and inquiring about the woman’s condition for about the third time then they were told that Clarke had died.


Add Reply

Likes (0)