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Wednesday 22 January 2020
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Police hospital a welcome idea

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith. -
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith. -

THE proposed police service hospital is “long overdue” and will be “very much welcomed.”

Newsday spoke with head of the police service’s Social and Welfare Association president Insp Gideon Dickson, who applauded the idea, which was made public by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith on Tuesday.

In a media briefing, Griffith said he will acquire and receive donations to improve the current facility in the grounds of the Police Academy at St James from a health facility to a hospital.

“We are in full support of this. During our initial meeting with the commissioner, this was raised, and it is good to know that it will be coming to pass. All police officers will be pleased by this,” Dickson said.

Newsday toured the facility on Wednesday and met with the two nurses and the lone doctor on duty, Dr Patricia Aitken-Mootoo.

Aitken-Mootoo, who wore a face mask during the brief interview because she had the cold and did not want to spread it, said the hospital is a much needed and welcome idea.

During the interview, two police officers were brought in. There were two in the waiting area and three others waiting for prescriptions.

Newsday spoke with ACP Odette Lewis, who is in charge of the Police Academy. She said at present treats not only police officers but also fire officers.

President of the Fire Services Association Leo Ramkissoon said he is thrilled that the police service will be getting a hospital, but wanted to reiterate his call for the fire service’s own doctor.

“In the Fire Services Act of 1965, a medical doctor was assigned to fire service, and to date we have had no medical doctor assigned to the fire service.

“At the end of 2018 were told Cabinet approved a medical doctor for us ,but that position remains vacant.”

Ramkissoon added that the doctors who share themselves between the fire and police officers at times stop seeing fire officers. At present fire officers are scheduled to see the doctor on certain days.

Aitken-Mootoo said the facility now is not sufficient, as one doctor is in charge of some 10,000 patients, and that can be overwhelming. She added that there is need for specialist care for officers which they can’t access at the facility.

Police officers told Newsday they have to arrive at the facility as early as 4 am, since the doctor only sees 25 patients a day because of staff shortages.

Lewis said a needs assessment was done and some of the things listed included equipment such as x-ray machines, mammogram machines and dialysis machines.

“Some of the drugs here are generic, but that is what is available. We don’t have insulin here, so I have to buy it outside. There are no more vitamins and cough mixtures, and there is a cold going around.

“We also need to increase staffing for social workers and mental health professionals and professionals for the equipment – all modern equipment.”

The facility, which has ten beds, is manned by two nurses, but 24 medical/surgical beds have been proposed.

Asked the cost of what was recommended in the needs assessment, Lewis said she would not divulge that, but added, “The commissioner is a resourceful man.”

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