Min. Lawrence meets family of late Mahdia resident Cleavon Gomes

―Preliminary findings show airstrip location, topography among issues surrounding unavailability of medivac

DPI, Guyana, Friday, February 28, 2020

Minister of Public Health, Hon. Volda Lawrence travelled to Mahdia today to meet with the family of the late Cleavon Gomes and the staff of the Mahdia Hospital.

The minister’s visit comes in the wake of an incident at the hospital.

It was reported that 36-year-old Gomes was in an altercation with another man on Thursday night when he was shot in the shoulder by a third person who intervened in the exchange. He was rushed to the hospital and doctors and staff followed procedures to stabilize the patient.

It was determined that Gomes required surgery and a medical evacuation was requested. However, clearance was not given for an aircraft to fly into the region due to the topography and location of the Mahdia airstrip. Unfortunately, Gomes succumbed to his injury

On hearing of his demise, family members and other residents broke some of the hospital windows and verbally accosted the staff.

During her meeting with the relatives, Minister Lawrence clarified the reason why the medivac was unable to respond.

She explained that by the time clearance was given for the medivac to occur, pilots were unavailable to fly in. As is customary, two pilots are needed for a medical evacuation to take place at nights.

“We cannot have a tired pilot flying, that is a risk,” the Health Minister explained. She was supported by Army Officer, Dr. Nigel Langhorne, who is the point person to the MoPH, in situations like this.

She also explained to the relatives that they were never denied the right to see the patient but at the time they could not because it was a critical case and the medical staff needed to be allowed to do their job.

The Minister also met with the Mahdia Hospital staffers to commended them for carrying out their duties despite the unfortunate incident. She added that the ministry will ensure such an incident never occurs again.

Permanent Secretary, MoPH Colette Adams, who accompanied the minister, noted that the ministry has already been identifying any gaps in the service provided by the health facility and is seeking to address them.

Among these is the construction of a new hospital where an operating theatre can be housed to deal with emergency cases. This should reduce the need for medical evacuations.

Also, up for consideration in the interim, is for the ministry to have its own helicopter.

Minister Lawrence assured the relatives that a full investigation will be conducted. Gomes’ body has been transported out of the region for a post mortem.