Don’t hide behind keyboards

Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence

— make official complaints against City hospital, Minister Lawrence urges

MINISTER of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, said persons who feel they may have been ill-treated at private City hospitals, first have to lodge official complaints in order to get their concerns addressed.

Over the past two weeks, several, mostly anonymous, posts have surfaced and are being circulated on social media site, Facebook, detailing allegations against a private city hospital, as well as against one of the hospital’s doctors.

Speaking with the Guyana Chronicle on Thursday, the doctor in question challenged the credibility of the complaints on social media, contending they were made by anonymous persons.

“Since most of those quotes don’t have a name I can’t address them. So if they have a genuine complaint they should put their names to it so that we can address it, so that’s the only point I have to make. If somebody is unwilling to put their names it makes you wonder if it’s a genuine complaint,” the doctor posited, in a telephone interview with the Guyana Chronicle.

She noted that she has since received a lot of outpouring of support from other patients, defending her work as a doctor and her treatment of patients.

“We adhere to all the ministry’s requirements much more than any other hospital. If any patient wishes to come in and see me to discuss any matter they are very welcome to do so; if they don’t wish to put their name to a post, it’s very difficult for me to investigate the matter and see what it was about,” the doctor said.

Lawrence said she has been following the issue but agreed that anonymous complainants are not helpful to the matters raised.

“There have just been comments on Facebook. People have to understand that putting something on Facebook is not making a report. Many times it’s a third hand information or a fourth hand information and we want to address these situations but we need to get the reports,” Lawrence noted.

“There is the Medical Council, there is the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and if persons feel aggrieved by any institution, I believe they need to make a formal report to the agencies that govern these institutions. So I just want to say to Guyanese that I see a lot of things on Facebook and if it has to do with health I would follow it up as the minister of health because we want to ensure that we give the best health service, but I cannot say it enough that persons must make a report,” the minister said.

Persons have also claimed to have been barred from seeing doctors and banned from the hospital.

“You have two issues: there you have one where a doctor refuses to treat a patient, a doctor taking the Hippocratic oath, swears to take care of any patient, anywhere, irrespective of who that person is, so when we come to patient-doctor relationship, whatever personal issues you have, you swore to put those things aside, that’s one issue. The other issue in terms of a private hospital refusing to treat a person is one that I don’t want to comment on because I don’t think I have all of the details on whether it is treated like any other private institution, so that is something I want to withhold commenting on,” Lawrence said.

At least one young woman, Joanne Nurse, who claims her baby died at the hospital on June 1, said she has approached a lawyer and is in discussions to sue the hospital. She claimed her child died because she was advised by the doctor to induce labour when she was just 37 weeks pregnant.

“They tell me to go outside and buy a coke and drink it and come in to test the baby heart. They said the coke is to help with the baby heartbeat but then she take the blood test. I told her is the coke that they give me to drink make the blood sugar go up and she still get me frightened,” Nurse said in tears.

She added: “Right now I’m hurt because so long I was waiting to get this baby and I did everything and they could’ve waited ‘til he reached the 40 weeks. They could’ve allowed the baby to reach full-term. I left with the pain now and no baby. It hurtful because I don’t know what else to do.”