WITH only one community healthcare worker stationed at Fort Island, residents of the island and other surrounding catchment areas are often left to wait long hours to receive medical assistance.
The lone nurse, Pretty Debedin, told the Guyana Chronicle during a recent visit to island that she caters for approximately 95 persons and is in dire need of an assistant at the facility.
“I’m the only nurse for the entire island and it is difficult for me. I need assistance because just in case of an emergency and I have to leave, the health facility leaves unprotected. If I’m on sick leave, I need persons that can be there to assist,” Nurse Debedin said.
Debedin, who is also the Chairperson for the island, stated that she is ‘stretched thin’ since she not only cares for those on the island but also those in surrounding communities.
“When we talk about Fort Island and health it is not just Fort Island alone, because we deal with a lot of catchment area and persons come from various areas to get care.”
She noted that some months back a request was made to the authorities of Region Three for assistance; a suggestion was also made to identify and train persons from the island in the field of medical assistance and nursing; however, she is yet to receive a response.
At the time of the interview, Debedin was on two days sick leave. No one was at the health centre to respond to the needs of the residents.
“Right now, I’m on sick leave, I’m on two days sick leave; it’s me alone and I have to do everything by myself. Nobody is there and that is reason make I say we in need of a next person,” she said.
In further stressing the need for more manpower, Nurse Debedin shared a recent incident where there was an emergency she was unable to tend to due to other medical engagements.
“It had a delivery and I was not here; I was at the hospital and the person had delivered in the boat. These are things that I always talk about because I’m not always here and I can’t divide myself,” she stressed.
However, she explained that while she is equipped to handle deliveries, she advises against them being done on the island and often transfers expecting mothers to the West Demerara Regional Hospital.
Meanwhile, when asked how she manages to respond to COVID-19 patients on the island, Debedin disclosed that she takes a swift approach to limit the spread of the virus.
“If a resident shows signs or symptoms, I encourage them to go and do the test and if they don’t have a boat, I take them with my boat and engine and let them do the test. When the results come, if the person is negative and they are not critical we encourage that person to stay home and take medication and I do check ups.”
Additionally, nurse Debedin related that she spearheads a robust COVID-19 education campaign, “What I do is more home visits and more talking. I go and I educate the persons more about the virus.”
To date, according to Nurse Debedin, the island has only recorded three COVID-19 patients but she is awaiting the results of a few persons who were recently tested.