By Vanessa Braithwaite
Nurses attached to the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC), along with regional officials and Region 10 Industrial Relations Officer of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Maurice Butters, protested the office of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC), Rudy Small, on Monday, after a recording surfaced with comments he made about their character, that were deemed disrespectful and inappropriate.
With placards, the nurses chanted, ‘We need Justice’, ‘The CEO must go’ in front of his office. This media outlet was reliably informed that the CEO had left the location secretly, when the protest commenced.
The CEO during a meeting with the nurses, following the publication of the article, said that comments were made off-the-record, but in the recording released, the CEO was allegedly making the comments during the interview, as is argued by the writer. “They are so accustomed Rawle, to coming to work, I’m telling you what’s going on now and I will put a stop to it. They have some nurses, especially those that work night, they come to work, they sign in, they get away and they go and sleep with they sweet man, they sweet man does screw them whole night and then they does come back to work and sign out in the morning……all the lawlessness going on,” he was allegedly heard saying.
The nurses are calling on the Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony, to address the situation earliest, since not doing so will result in continuous protest and shutting down of the hospital.
This was reiterated by Industrial Relations Officer Mr. Maurice Butters, who said, since his return to the country, he wrote to the CEO to have a meeting with the union, as is customary to happen every month and the CEO refused to meet. Top on the agenda, was the termination of the St John Brigade contract, which saw the unemployment of over 15 women. “For the year I wrote him asking him for us to continue our monthly union management meeting…this was about three weeks ago and he said we have to give him an idea what it is we want to discuss. We sent an agenda to him because he said he is not going to keep any meeting and I sent an agenda and he still refuses to meet,” Butters related to INFO 10. “This is the first CEO or Admin Manager to behave in that manner,” Butters said.
Efforts to reach the CEO for a response on this allegation proved futile.
On Monday, Butters and other union representative stood in solidarity with the nurses and said they will continue to do so, until Small is removed. “The current issue is, we want him removed because he was disrespectful to the nurses and not only the nurses but the female staff, not only at LHC but nurses at Upper Demerara Hospital and at the Kwakwani Hospital. As a matter a fact, our position is, he has been disrespectful to all nurses within the country and we are asking for his removal.”
In addition to continue protesting and shutting down the hospital if no action is taken, Butters said legal action will also be taken against Small for making slanderous statements, for which he has no proof of.
The GPSU is also calling on the Ministry of Health to commission a management board earliest, so that the hospital can be managed professionally and effectively.
During the Cabinet outreach in Linden, President Irfaan Ali personally asked Small at the Watooka Guest House about the establishment of a Management Committee and he said it, “we are working on it.” Butters said no efforts to do so have been forthcoming.
Last week, Regional officials, including Regional Chairman Deron Adams, wrote to Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony, calling for the removal of Small.
Following the public backlash over the incident, the CEO, through the office of the Public Relations Officer, published a statement, which he explained, that the statements were made off-the-record, after the official interview he had with the writer. “At the end of the interview, off the record, the reporter and I engaged in casual banter. During the off-the- record conversation, certain popular rumors relating to the issue of disappearing staff members were highlighted. Those rumors relating to behavior of nursing staff have been part of the folklore in this community long before my arrival as CEO,” the statement said.
The statement said the CEO was shocked and mortified by the post which the he said the reporter added salacious commentary, alleging certain inappropriate behavior of nurses.
It said that the CEO is proud of the work the staff has been doing and the introduction of an electronic timekeeping system is not meant to denigrate the staff, but to reduce and eliminate the imperfections that exist in the hospital.