Outcome of probe into children’s death expected soon

Six-year-old Sharezer Mendonca

– Min Cummings says, affirms public health sector improving

JUNIOR Minister of Public Health, Dr Karen Cummings has said the outcome of the probe conducted into the recent deaths of three children, who were being treated for leukaemia, at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) is expected “soon”.

Junior Minister of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings

Seven-year-old Curwayne Edwards succumbed on January 14; Roshani Seegobin, three, died on January 18 and Sharezer Mendonca, six, passed away on January 24. The trio succumbed after an alleged adverse reaction to medication, which was administered to them as part of the treatment for leukaemia– a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues.

Following the first two deaths, the GPHC had confirmed that an investigation has been launched. After the death of Mendonca, Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, explained that an “all-round” probe was being conducted.

The investigation at GPHC was being spearheaded by the hospital’s Director of Medical and Professional Services, Dr. Fawcett Jeffrey, while the investigation team also comprises support personnel from PAHO, members from the paediatrics department of the hospital and the GPHC’s Deputy CEO, Elizabeth Gonsalves.

Within the Public Health Ministry, Minister Lawrence had indicated that a team would be looking at the drugs administered during the period the patients were in the care of the GPHC.

Speaking with the Guyana Chronicle on Friday, the junior minister highlighted that the ministry has engaged with the Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO), Dr Karen Boyle, who was tasked to be in charge of the ministry’s taskforce set up to conduct investigations into the matter.

“Right now they are completing their investigations, so in another few days we should be able to know the final outcome of that incident,” Minister Cummings said.

The minister however noted that the incidents were very unfortunate and acknowledged that the GPHC is a referral hospital, and is the country’s highest level of public health care.

Though these deaths have placed the spotlight on potential mismanagement at the hospital, Dr. Cummings urged that persons continue to access the services provided.

“I think we have very good nurses [and] we have very good doctors here; they are working beyond the clock and I would encourage persons to utilise the facilities,” the junior minister said. “We’re getting better and better all the time.”