Hospital POS Jan 2019

Source: CNC3


Al­most five months af­ter the cen­tral block at the Port-of-Spain Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal was con­demned and evac­u­at­ed fol­low­ing the 6.9 earth­quake—de­mo­li­tion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion works are yet to be­gin. 

Pres­i­dent of T&T Reg­is­tered Nurs­es As­so­ci­a­tion (TTR­NA) Idi Stew­art de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion at the health fa­cil­i­ty as one which had reached “cri­sis point.”

On Fri­day, Stew­art wrote to Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley im­plor­ing him to pri­ori­tise the project.

Stew­art ques­tioned why were there plans to spend $850 mil­lion to build a new hos­pi­tal in San­gre Grande when the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ty was ad­e­quate­ly meet­ing the needs of the res­i­dents of that dis­trict.

While Stew­art did not dis­miss the need for a mod­ern fa­cil­i­ty in the East­ern Re­gion­al Health Au­thor­i­ty (ER­HA), he said the hos­pi­tal in the cap­i­tal city need­ed ur­gent at­ten­tion.

“Pa­tients are be­ing squeezed in­to the old­er part of the build­ing which is more than 160-years-old and was ini­tial­ly poor­ly con­struct­ed.”

“They are be­ing placed in units not de­signed for this large in­flux of pa­tients.”

Stew­art claimed six wards had been com­pressed to fit with­in the phys­i­cal di­men­sions which pre­vi­ous­ly on­ly housed the Ear, Nose and Throat Ward.

This, he said, had led to se­vere over-crowd­ing and pro­vid­ed an en­vi­ron­ment for pos­si­ble cross-con­t­a­m­i­na­tion.

Two weeks ago, the head nurs­es at the Ca­su­al­ty De­part­ment protest­ed by stay­ing away from work for one day to raise aware­ness and ex­press their dis­plea­sure with the cramped con­di­tions. Su­per­vi­sors on du­ty had to pick up the slack.

A male nurs­ing as­sis­tant and scrub tech­ni­cian claimed: “Due to the lack of avail­able bed space, we have to hus­tle pa­tients to leave be­fore they are due to be dis­charged. I am not sure how detri­men­tal that is in the im­me­di­ate sense, but I know it is hav­ing a long-term ef­fect be­cause we have seen pa­tients re­turn­ing to us be­cause com­pli­ca­tions have arisen and they come back for long-term care.”

He too crit­i­cised the move by hos­pi­tal au­thor­i­ties to com­man­deer cer­tain ar­eas with­in the hos­pi­tal to erect make-shift wards.

One such place was the wait­ing area where pa­tients would usu­al­ly wait to have their pre­scrip­tions filled out­side the phar­ma­cy.

A vis­it to the hos­pi­tal last week con­firmed the area was now a tem­po­rary ward with cur­tain di­viders be­ing used to sep­a­rate pa­tients.

Com­plain­ing about the lack of pri­va­cy for both the staff and pa­tients, a fe­male nurse with more than 12 years ex­pe­ri­ence added: “Air-con­di­tioned tents are now be­ing used to store equip­ment and sup­plies be­cause we have no space on the wards.”

“And yes, we are re­fer­ring pa­tients to oth­er hos­pi­tals be­cause our space is very lim­it­ed now and we can­not ac­com­mo­date them as be­fore.”

Mean­while, com­plaints of over­crowd­ing and a lack of avail­able beds have be­gun to emerge from the San Fer­nan­do Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal as well as the Er­ic Williams Med­ical Sci­ences Com­plex, as pa­tients from the Port-of-Spain hos­pi­tal are be­ing re­ferred to them for treat­ment and care.

Stew­art said plans had been dis­cussed in Sep­tem­ber 2011, re­gard­ing the con­struc­tion of the main block on the south-east cor­ner of the present com­pound but this nev­er came to fruition.

In­di­cat­ing that users of the hos­pi­tal were frus­trat­ed, Stew­art said: “Staff and pa­tients are ag­i­tat­ed be­cause it is an on­go­ing prob­lem, it is a dai­ly prob­lem.”

“They are un­able to get beds be­cause they have moved from over 400 beds down to less than 100 beds, so they are re­main­ing in the Ac­ci­dent and Emer­gency longer now.

“They al­so have to re­main on trol­leys longer too…every­thing is be­ing af­fect­ed.”

Ac­cept­ing that the North West Re­gion­al Health Au­thor­i­ty (NWRHA) had been do­ing every­thing pos­si­ble to en­sure the com­fort of the pa­tients in their care, Stew­art said non-es­sen­tial ser­vices had al­ready been trans­ferred to the St James In­fir­mary.

How­ev­er, he ap­pealed to the Min­istry of Fi­nance to al­lo­cate di­rect funds to­wards the con­struc­tion of a new cen­tral block which would pro­vide a ca­pac­i­ty of 540 beds.

While the staff are clam­our­ing for some form of protest, Stew­art is­sued a spe­cial ap­peal for them to hold strain.

How­ev­er, he cau­tioned that a shut down might be loom­ing if the au­thor­i­ties do not move to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to rec­ti­fy the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

Of­fi­cials at the Min­istry of Health con­firmed re­ceipt of an email re­quest­ing in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to this mat­ter, but no re­sponse was forth­com­ing up to Fri­day.

- by Anna Lisa Paul

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