Guyana: The death of Nurse Apple—Did danger lurk where nurses work? – by Yvonne Sam

Letter by Yvonne Sam

Nurses are the heart of healthcare, present when the first and last breath is taken

Permit me in the first instance to extend sincere condolences to the grieving family and colleagues of slain nurse Schenise Apple.  While the circumstances surrounding the death of the healthcare employee is enigmatic to say the least, the ensuing behavior / actions of the Health Minister only serves to create further doubts.  Plainly stated, there is gross absence of the normal and huge presence of the abnormal.

Schenise Apple

According to newspaper report regarding information coming from the Ministry, when the nurse was found dead Dr. Chissundra Abdool, the Regional Health Officer for Region Eight contacted the police, who then launched an investigation. If she was discovered dead, who made the discovery? She was seen hanging in her room?  Who certified death?  How was the Health Officer made aware of the situation? Who undertook to cut the body down?   

Does the situation not become a police matter in cases such as this, where the cause and circumstances of death is seemingly by suicide? It was only after the nurse did not show up for dinner that her colleagues went in search of her. Did any of her colleagues prior to leaving for dinner verify whether or not she would be partaking of dinner, so that her failure to arrive would provide cause for concern?

Some discrepancy arises in the reporting of the matter as it is claimed that she was missed after not showing up for dinner, and another claim that she was slated for night duty and was a non-show.  Where was the truth given the boot?  How was entry gained into her room in order for the discovery to be made?

The Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence, has claimed pride of place asserting that the Ministry has been there from the inception , and are collaborating to offer financial support to the dead nurse’s family to assist with the funeral expenses. Some degree of redundancy is present, as when a worker dies during the course of duty, or death is work -related, arrangements usually fall under the sphere of the Workers Compensation Board. Was the suicide deemed work-related or is the family facing adverse financial circumstances?

Of serious concern is the fact that the said Public Health Minister is appealing for an inquest into the nurse’s death.  No one has to appeal for an inquest to be conducted. British law states that the Coroner must open an inquest if reasonable cause exists to suspect that the death occurred due to anything other than natural causes. No exact legal definition exists of   “natural” cause.

Nevertheless, a common description is death due to a disease running its full course with no other intervening process. To what was the Minister alluding when she said that she would allow due process to run its full course?  An autopsy would be undertaken, and the cause of death ascertained, hence no need for probability. Methinks something is fishy in the town of Port Kaituma, and the behavior of the government is lending confirmation.

Nurses have the potential to lead the way in improving health and health care for all, but in order to realize that potential they must operate in an environment that is safe, empowering, and satisfying. As the investigation continues whether on the part of the police, (who thus far have stated nada), or on the part of the government who have simultaneously been conducting their own investigation, no mention has been made of the level of safety and security of the living quarters.

Government officials have reassured the public that all is safe at Port Kaituma.

Like the Public Health Minister, it is my desire that the seemingly loss of this young healthcare  contributor be thoroughly and painstakingly investigated,with no stone left upturned even if her fellow nurses have  covertly changed their roles and morphed into curses. Danger should not lurk where nurses work.

Yvonne Sam. Retired Head Nurse (U. K trained).


Family seeks answers over death of nurse


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