Sectoral Committee finds…paediatric unit lacks sufficient ventilationA visit by a parliamentary delegation to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) has revealed less than ideal conditions for new mothers, at both the maternity and paediatric wards.Back in May, a visit and review of the hospital by the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services found that the Maternity Ward sees and treats more patients than beds can accommodate. As a result, new mothers continue to have to double up in the beds in order to accommodate each other.The new Maternity WardThe Committee, which was led by Member of Parliament, Dr Vindhya Persaud, was debriefed by department head Denise Marks, who reported that there are 23 beds in the pre-natal unit; nine beds with four monitors in the labour room and six beds with six monitors in the delivery room. All of this is overseen by a staff complement of 51 midwives.This was juxtaposed with the fact that the ward not only caters for pregnant mothers from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), but also from regional hospitals around the country. The Committee related that Marks informed them of the need for the hospital to have a ward catering to Region Four mothers only.“In response to an inquiry on whether the staff complement was adequate, Ms Marks stated that there was a need for more midwives. She suggested a total of 102 was adequate. In addressing constraints faced by the department, she stated that there was a need for the Maternity Ward to have its own Electrocardiogram (ECG) machine, ultrasound machine and about 15 monitors in total,” the committee recorded.In its recommendations for the maternity unit, the Committee advised that the ward should have no less that 102 midwives. It also urged that the ward be outfitted with an ECG machine, 15 monitors and an ultrasound machine.The Maternity Ward is not the only department experiencing issues with overcrowding. On the same visit to the GPHC, the parliamentary team found that the Accident and Emergency Unit (A&E) of the hospital was also grappling with cramped space. It also had issues with shortages of staff and drugs, along with the poor maintenance of equipment.According to a report from that visit, Head of A&E, Dr Zulficar Bux revealed that the Unit has 18 beds and a staff of 16 doctors assisted by nurses. These beds, the reports noted, are expected to cater for 60 to 100 patients.The doctor had also revealed that these 16 doctors see between 100 to 200 patients per day, including referrals. There have been cases, the report revealed, where elective surgeries we’re cancelled due to overcrowding.Paediatric WardThe Paediatric Ward, where the new born babies are kept, monitored and given post-natal care, was also highlighted in the report. While they observed that the ward was clean and child friendly, the Committee was informed that it lacked fundamental equipment like air conditioning units and sufficient fans.Dr Seepersaud, head of the unit, informed the parliamentary delegation that this causes the ward to be humid, which is detrimental to both staff and patients. The Committee was also informed of other issues including malfunctioning equipment, prolonged repair time and shortages of medication and equipment.Even though the ward is the only one in the hospital that performs Paediatric Cardiology, it was noted that it has been operating without its full complement of staff, especially those who work as specialists.“(Seepersaud) stated that there is need for nurses to be specialised in nursing care, specifically related to paediatric care. However, she noted that there is a baby care foundation programme that aids the department in achieving its mandate.”The parliamentary committee recommended a number of changes to the Paediatric Unit. These include the installation of air conditioning units in the ward and for technicians to be trained and in place to maintain the equipment.It noted the importance of clear policies to be developed for the department, as well as for the nurses to be trained in paediatric care. The committee also recommended that a cardiac unit be established for children cardiology.“The quality of equipment, machinery and instruments should be taken into consideration when making purchases for the department,” the Committee also urged. “The issues of drug and staff shortages and other medical supplies should be addressed urgently.”Earlier this year, the new Maternity Ward was opened to the public. In consideration of instances when two mothers were made to share one bed, the multimillion-dollar unit was supposed to help alleviate this issue.