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Open letter to Prime Minister Dr Gonalves

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27.FEB.09

Sir,

I would like to draw your attention to the state of affairs at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, MCMH. You have tried your best to give the people of St. Vincent a chance to survive by providing and facilitating health professionals to improve the care of this nation. Take it from me, starting from the ER. This is not happening.{{more}}

You are pouring money into medicine for the public. There is never sufficient medication for the patients. The attitude of the ER Staff to the patients is “you wait and shut up”, whether they are bleeding, can’t breathe, or in severe pain. A case in point: on the evening of Monday, January 5th, 2009, a young mother came to the ER with a baby nine months old in respiration distress. The baby’s feet, hands and mouth were blue from lack of oxygen. She came into the inner part where the nurses and doctors attend to patients. She was standing there crying, fearing the death of her child. The nurses were watching TV, the doctor was sitting at the desk staring into space, the grandmother arrived and screamed at them to come and assist the baby.

The doctor was noted to have said that the nurses knew what was wrong with the baby and that he had other patients to look after (wrong answer). They then came to the assistance of the baby when the grandmother continued to ask questions about the care that was needed for the child, since she had another grandchild with the identical symptoms. Another physician had also seen this child earlier and made a similar diagnosis and sent the mother to ER.

Why is a TV in the working area of the ER? It is okay in areas where the patients are waiting for care. Sir, if you are ill and go to the ER, it is not unusual to have to sit from day until night to get attention, and the attitude comes into play if you complain about the length of time you have to wait before seeing a doctor. It is not unusual for them to attend to friends and family before patients who were waiting several hours before. In the Emergency Room, there should be a number system set up to avoid confusion, but patients with airway breathing and bleeding should have priority for care.

To add insult to injury, the hospital did not have the medication needed to treat the child, and when the father went to a pharmacy to get it, they only sold him one dose. So he had to go back, at which time the pharmacy realized the hospital did not have the medication and charged him $4.00 more for each dose. In this same case, three other consultants had to be called in to assist with the care of the child. The child was kept for four days and discharged. The mother was told to bring her back to the hospital two times daily for three days, but 2 a.m. on the first day she had to return to hospital for breathing problems (think of the hardship for the parents). There should be an inquiry in this case and others where there was sudden death.

There needs to be a change in leadership in nursing and an investigation into the credentials of doctors allowed to work in the E.R. NO TV in the working area of the Emergency Room. People in professions as nurses and doctors have to have a gut feeling always to want to help others. Taking people from anywhere who do not care about others and training them to alleviate their poverty state can only produce nurses like these, whose only interest is their pay cheque. They are not team players; their attitude, they are rude and indifferent to the patients and their families. The Ministry of Health has some responsibility to weed out these inconsistencies in caregiving to our people at this hospital; instead, they have been covering up a lot of ills.

For your own observation, Sir, meet anyone on the street and ask them about the care they or their family receive at the hospital, and you will get a “mouthful”. This is not an exaggeration. These are facts. Thanks to God for having someone like you to listen to us.

A Concerned Citizen

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