Nursing system needs to be overhauled – Minister Cummings

first_imgMinister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr. Karen Cummings, has said there is urgent need to overhaul the nursing system to ensure and sustain the delivery of the highest levels of quality patient care and other services.Noting that Government is not unaware of the challenges that beset the profession, Dr Cummings reiterated that the APNU/AFC Administration has addressed some of these problems in the shortest possible time.The minister’s comment has come in response to a heart-wrenching letter penned by United Kingdom-based Guyanese Dr. Mark Devonish about the poor level of care delivered to his terminally ill brother during his final days at the GeorgetownMinister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen CummingsPublic Hospital Corporation.In a telephone interview, Minister Cummings told the Guyana Times that there will be systems in place to address the training of nurses to deliver quality care to their patients. She added that nurses are not supposed to be on their phones while on shift, since they are aware of the level of responsibility required of them.“We are aware of the issues, but I want to say that there are supervisors for the nurses, and they know that they are not supposed to be on their phones because they are very important in the delivery of health care,” she explained.“We are developing programmes to teach them customer care and efficiency, but the issues didn’t come the other day; (they are) something that we inherited, and moving forward, we are going to address (them). I want to say that in addressing (the issues) we would have to reassess the attitudes of the nurses and then we have to overhaul the system to improve it,” the minister added.The complaintIn his letter, Dr Devonish said he visited Guyana during the Christmas holiday, and would have arrived on December 22, and immediately went to the GPHC to visit his brother.He explained that the sight that greeted him was one that left much to be desired, since his brother was on a bed with no sheets, wearing pampers overflowing with urine and faeces.“I went to the nurse and politely asked for some gloves to tidy him. I also asked forGPHC Chief Executive Officer, Brigadier (ret’d) George Lewisa bed sheet. The nurse, who was on her phone and (was) obviously annoyed at being disturbed, rudely told me that the hospital has no bed sheets, and then pointed in the direction of a box of gloves. I proceeded to take three pairs of gloves, since my other two brothers also needed gloves. Her response (was), ‘Wha you going with all a da’. We bought three sets of bed sheets for him, to make him comfortable,” he wrote.Dr Devonish, who is working in the UK as a consultant in Acute Internal Medicine at the Nottingham University Hospital, also did his internship at the GPHC. He said he was amazed at the lack of critical care delivered to his brother.He said that after they would have cleaned his brother, they bought three sets of sheets for his bed, only to return the next day to find his bed without sheets and the sheets he had brought stolen. He added that, along with the sheets, his brother’s cellphone was also stolen.He notes that every day until his brother died, they were met with a sheet-less bed and overflowing pampers when they visited him. The doctor explained that on the third day he discovered his brother had a laceration on his arm, which was sutured, but the man was unaware as to how he got it. The nurses on duty also had no idea as to how the man was wounded, and who had stitched him up.The following day, things got worse, since one of his brothers returned to the hospital to discover their ill brother lying on the floor in a pool of blood, with a nurse not too far away dispensing drugs. The nurse told the family that the man was on the floor for a short while, and went about her business.He added that on the fifth day his family met his brother in the same state. However, he related that he was able to see his brother’s drug chart, which he inspected only to discover that no critical medication was being administered, and he proceeded to question why. The answer was one he did not expect, since he was “rudely chastised” for reading the chart, and was told to take up the medication issue with the doctor the following day.“On the sixth day, I recognised that my brother was dying and had a few hours to live. We wanted to spend his last hours with him, but were not allowed to. In the UK, our patients, when dying, are placed in a side room and the relatives are allowed to spend the last hours or days with them. I recognise that the ward does not have side rooms, but at the bare minimum, we should have been allowed to be with him during his last hours. Of course, on our arrival, he had no bed sheet and his pampers were overflowing with faeces and urine,” Dr Devonish related.“Our brother died alone a few hours after we left. He was 34 years old. It is sad the way the hospital treated a terminally ill patient. Also, it was very embarrassing that a hospital that boasts of making progress, a hospital that boasts of performing renal transplant surgeries, a hospital that boasts of performing coronary angiograms, a hospital that boasts of renal dialysis, and a hospital that boasts of performing coronary bypass surgeries did not have simple bed sheets during the period our brother was an inpatient and possibly beyond,” he gut-wrenchingly wrote.Disappointed“Yes, I saw the letter and I was disappointed. I read the letter because I felt that, rather than going to the press, Mr. Devonish should have shared the information with us (at the GPHC), and we certainly would have launched an investigation into the issue and taken corrective actions, whether it would be disciplinary, whether it be training or whatever, to correct the situation,” GPHC’s Chief Executive Officer, Brigadier (ret’d) George Lewis, said when contacted on Saturday.He noted that, following publication of the letter, the administration has since launched an investigation into the incident; and upon completion, actions would be taken against those found culpable.Additionally, he said the Social Cohesion Ministry had brought up the establishment of a final days/hours room, and the administration is looking at the possibility.“The hospital is actively exploring the possibility of, if not having independent rooms for the different religions, at least seeing if we can have one room which can be used by different religions,” Lewis noted.The hospital’s CEO said that since his appointment, nurses and other professionals at the institution would have undergone at least four customer care training sessions, learning the basics of public interaction best practices. He added that there are plans to continue to train staffers so that they can deliver quality care to patients accessing services at the institution.However, Lewis disagreed with the notion of most nurses being on their phones and ignoring patients while on duty. He said that while there are “one and two” who are culpable, the majority of the nurses are concerned about their patients.“The letter did state (that) for a number of days this situation was going on, and I am disappointed, because we have at the hospital a Complaints Department, and in addition to that, there are a number of other layers of management that a complaint could have been lodged, and we would have taken immediate action to correct the situation,” the CEO said, while reiterating his disappointment at the way Dr Devonish had handled the situation.He urged the public to make use of the Complaints Department whenever they are aggrieved. The Department is located in the first administrative building, and operates every day from 08:00hrs to 16:30hrs. (Lakhram Bhagirat)last_img

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