Sun | Apr 23, 2017

Help at last for Myrie

Published:Tuesday | June 2, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Senior Medical Officer at the Kingston Public Hospital, Dr Natalie Whylie
A section of the Kingston Public Hospital.
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ONE WEEK after The Gleaner started to probe Kenneth Myrie's "missing" medical file and three-year delay in doing two surgeries, owing to the unavailability of his records, a light has now appeared at the end of the tunnel.

After making contact with senior medical officer (SMO) at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), Dr Natalie Whylie, about Myrie's plight, his records have been found and an appointment has been set for this Friday for him to see a medical team at the hospital.

After his appointment this Friday, Myrie is expected to be reassessed by medical personnel and a decision taken on his medical care.

"He certainly will be reassessed and a decision and his options discussed with him as well, because remember, there is patient input," Whylie asserted.

Internal communication problem

Commenting on the long delays in locating Myrie's file, which has denied him the medical care he desperately needed from 2012, Whylie said the situation was "regrettable and unacceptable".

"I have given my commitment as senior medical officer to ensure that the processes that are in place are carried through as far as patient care is concerned and that once these things are brought to my attention, there will be prompt action and intervention in the interest of the patient."

She also admitted that an internal communication problem may have stymied efforts to retrieve Myrie's file. Whylie said a clerk who is charged with the responsibility of locating a docket might have kept the information to himself, having failed to recover the file. She said this information might not have been reported to a supervisor or senior staff.

Whylie, who was appointed SMO about a year ago, told The Gleaner that work was being done to fix the medical records department, adding that there was a capacity challenge to store the files. However, she said significant improvements have been made in terms of the records department.

"There was an area where the files were kept and the room was in need of repair and that was fixed. There was a challenge in terms of the number of staff - so staff has been employed," she added.

The SMO also indicated that new measures have been put in place to deal with the security of medical records.

Over the two-year period 2012-2013, The Gleaner carried out undercover investigations of how medical records were stored at two major hospitals - the KPH and the University Hospital of the West Indies. Both institutions were found wanting, which led to a directive by Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson for an urgent review of the arrangements surrounding the operation of the medical records section at the KPH.

At the time, Ferguson directed that "a task force immediately examine the medical records facility with a view to maximising the use of available space in the short run, while exploring ways to expand the facility in the medium term".

Meanwhile, Whylie told The Gleaner that she welcomed the report on the challenges that Myrie faced, noting that it provided an opportunity for her to address the problem as well as to audit and assess the system.

She also told The Gleaner that she received a follow-up letter from the Office of the Public Defender last week.

"I can't say what was written to the previous SMO, but this is the first time it has been brought to my attention," she said.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com