Minister Lawrence wants Sunday’s attackers of WDRH staff charged

MINISTRY OF PUBLIC HEALTH – Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence will oppress for legal action against those who recently assaulted West Demerara Regional Hospital (WDRH) staff and destroyed some of its property.

Lawrence made the disclosure Tuesday during a meeting with doctors and nurses of the Region Three (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara) hospital at her Brickdam, Georgetown office.

Minister of Health, Volda Lawrence and staff of the WDRH.

“This matter will not just slide, I want the staff to feel safe and secure…their safety comes first” Lawrence assured the team during the meeting with the distraught WDRH employees.

Dr. Shonnette Jack who worked on the evening of the assault told Lawrence that verbal and physical attacks of WDRH staff by drunken and impatient patients and their families are routine on weekends and holidays at the institution.

On Sunday night’s physical attacks, Dr. Jack said there were “10 persons fighting in the Emergency Room for about 25 minutes.” She said during the melee chairs were being hurled in the direction of the WDRH staff.

Police ignored repeated calls for help, Jack emphasised.

Forced to visit the station on their own, Jack said police refused to take her statement and later “tried to intimidate me to drop the story”.

“I am totally fed up and discouraged. It doesn’t feel good working anymore,” admitted young Dr. Pooran Outar, who said he has “countless experiences” being attacked by irate patients and their disgruntled families.

On Saturday night “I was verbally attacked by drunkards” Dr. Pooran recalled.

The assaults on WDRH staff are not confined to weekends or to the ER Medical Superintendent Dr. Bibi Jabar and Regional Health Officer (RHO) Dr. Naail Uthman confirmed.

Dr. Uthman said due to similar past frays Region Three authorities agreed to build a police outpost in the WDRH compound but the GPF never occupied it.

Those soused in alcohol and others demanding immediate attention attack the staff “anytime and anywhere” but reserve their fiercest ire for doctors and nurses of a particular ethnic group, Dr. Tracey Duncan-Clarke said.

Meanwhile Minister Lawrence and a team will visit the embattled WDRH Wednesday to hold further discussions with the worried staff.

Assistant Regional Executive Officer (AREO) Ms. Jennifer Ferreira-Douglas will also meet with the firm providing security for the WDRH and ‘D’ Division Commander Mr. Leslie James to raise the issue about police non-response to calls for help from staff of the hospital.

Also expected to be raised are staff concerns that police refused to take any statement from the WDRH staff forced to visit the station after police did not heed their calls.

“I am concerned because I want us to have the best health care system possible,” Lawrence told the staff when this particular issue was raised.

As an interim measure staff want proper locks on all the hospital doors and a designated safe-place in the event that any future attacks become extremely life-threatening.

Following tomorrow’s visit by Minister Lawrence it is expected that security will be boosted for the WDRH staff.

Despite the latest drunken fracas, Lawrence encouraged the hospital staff not to be put off by the altercation but to continue viewing their profession “as a privilege to serve humanity”.




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