PRESIDENT David Granger, on Wednesday, commissioned a new $280M Medical Staff Quarters for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) which will save the GPHC some $20M annually in expenditure.
The Staff Quarters is located at Quamina and Waterloo Streets, Cummingsburg, Georgetown and replaces the previous ‘Doctors’ Quarters’ which was exclusively for doctors and housed 19 apartments. The new building now houses 41 apartments inclusive of 16 one-bedroom apartments; 18 two-bedroom apartments; 7 three-bedroom apartments; a laundry area; 8 antennas for Wi-Fi and a high-tech telephone system while future developments will see the installation of solar panels.
At the improved facility, in addition to doctors, other categories of staff, such as nurses, will be catered for as well as medical brigade members from countries such as Cuba and China which have assisted Guyana’s health sector for years.
HEALTH CARE FOR ALL
In his key address, President David Granger said that with the rise of a range of epidemic diseases over the last decade, Guyana must ensure that the fundamental right of universal health coverage for all citizens is met. However, he noted that the quality of healthcare Guyana receives is dependent on the quality of its medical personnel.
“Many doctors work ‘on call’ and it is always desirable if they can reside somewhere where they would be able to respond faster to their ‘calls’. The Staff Quarters, just a short distance away from the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, will make it easier for the doctors to respond more quickly to emergencies,” he said.
Meanwhile, he also recognised the “immeasurable contributions” of the medical brigades from China and Cuba, stating that Guyana greatly values their contributions to providing care to those in need.
The Head of State reminded that under the current Administration, investment and expenditure in the public health sector moved from 3.19 per cent of nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014 to 4.10 per cent in 2019.
For the corresponding period, it moved from 9.6 per cent of total public sector expenditure to 11.32 per cent. The President committed that investment will be increased even further during the Decade of Development 2020-2029 to surpass the PAHO-WHO target of 6 per cent of GDP, by the end of the Decade.
Through the Ministry of Public health, he also pledged that the government will accelerate efforts to fight diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria and the country’s high rate of suicide.
“Our government will establish a more inclusive public health system over the decade. Attention will be paid to ensuring access and delivery of quality healthcare to at-risk and vulnerable persons and groups such as women, children, adolescents, the elderly, hinterland communities and the disabled,” the President said. “Our government will continue to ensure that primary health care will remain the priority for universal health coverage.”
ACCESS TO HEALTH SERVICES
Meanwhile, also making remarks was Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, who said that for the past four and a half years the government has been pursuing the path of building capacity in all facets of the health sector.
Giving examples, Minister Lawrence said that in the past there were no dialysis units; only one Computerized Tomography (CT) scan and only one Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine available in Guyana.
However, there is now a Dialysis Centre at the GPHC and a Dialysis Department in Region Six and CT scanners are available at the GPHC, the Bartica Regional Hospital and the New Amsterdam Regional Hospital. “The health sector has benefitted tremendously from government support, enabling the sector not only to upgrade its delivery of health care services but to bring on stream additional services with a strong focus on better access and quality of service offered,” she said.
She assured that the government will also continue on expansions such as the new Medical Staff Quarters to ensure that the needs of medical staff are met for the improved administration of health care.
IMPROVED QUALITY OF SERVICE
Providing the figures, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brigadier (ret’d) George Lewis said that the construction and renovation were divided into three blocks, for which awards were granted at the cost of $131.4M; $100.8M and $50M.
He said that the facility will alleviate some of the housing challenges encountered by GPHC staff members.
While previously known as the ‘Doctors’ Quarters’, he expressed his appreciation that the facility, formerly in a poor state, is now brand new with inclusive efforts undertaken by the government to recognise all categories of health workers. “As we seek to improve the services we offer to our patients, we have not forgotten the persons who provide that service: our doctors, nurses, other medical staff and other supporting staff,” Lewis said.
On behalf of the GPHC Board, Chairperson Kesaundra Alves thanked the government for its vision and the GPHC team for bringing the project to fruition. She reminded that health workers are the most valuable resource to public health and expressed her gratitude that the quarters will no longer be exclusive to doctors but to crucial health workers such as nurses. Alves urged the pending occupants to take care of the facility and treat like home as it took a “labour of love” to ensure that every aspect was just right.
The event was also attended by members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the China and Cuba brigades; officials from the Ministry of Public Health and Finance and PAHO/WHO representatives. At the end of the ceremony, President Granger unveiled the plaque and sign to the building and took a tour of the new facility along with other invited persons.