Fort Island in dire need of additional healthcare workers

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Fort Island Health Centre

Healthcare services at Fort Island, located in the Essequibo River, are in dire need of additional human resources to adequately cater to the needs of residents and patients from surrounding areas.

Community Health Officer, Pretty Debedin is the only health worker on the island. She explained that whenever she is on leave, there is no one at the facility to treat patients or offer medical services.

“It’s difficult for me. I need assistance. Just an emergency, I need to leave the health facility unprotected. If I’m on sick leave, I need assistance so that persons could be there to assist the various areas. When we talk about Fort Island and dealing with health, we’re not saying Fort Island alone because we deal with a lot of catchment areas,” Debedin told this publication on Friday.

She pointed out that the facility would attend to persons from the outskirts of Fort Island since medical workers are also lacking in some areas and as such, she is calling for at least one more person to be stationed at the centre to provide services when she is not there.

Health Officer Pretty Debedin

“Some persons would come from Morashi. Right now, Morashi doesn’t have a nurse there. Right now, I’m on sick leave. It’s me alone and I have to do everything by myself. Nobody is there so that’s why I said we’re in need of someone else.”

Debedin said she has been encouraging youths from Fort Island to obtain the required qualifications with the hopes of being employed to serve the community in the health field.

“We’re looking at persons from the community to take the advantage to be there for the community…It has a delivery and I was not here. The persons delivered in the boat. I divide myself but not so much. We do not encourage community delivery. We also encourage you to go to the hospital.”

On the other hand, it was related that there are adequate medical supplies for the centre’s day to day function. With respect to COVID-19, she said symptomatic persons are asked to get tested while severe cases are referred to the West Demerara Regional Hospital (WDRH) for further medical check-ups.

“We have adequate supplies. I have no problem with supplies for the health facility. The region has been supporting me a great lot with that…I’m the person on the ground. So, once I see a person with signs and symptoms, I refer them. They go and do the test. Once they’re positive and return back, they self-isolate at home. If they’re critical, then the hospital (West Demerara Regional Hospital) would take care of them from there,” she shared.

On the island, there are currently 35 chronic disease patients, with over 20 neonatal and postnatal cases.