Mandeville Regional: Longstanding problem but not at its worst
Rooms full, halls full and even the beds are full.
It is a huge problem that has long affected the Mandeville Regional Hospital (MRH), but last week, administrators at the facility told The Sunday Gleaner that, while the issue is critical, it is not at its worst this time around.
But a nurse at the hospital challenged that claim as she told our news team that the situation is extremely bad.
"Things have got worse. It all began when the free health-care system was introduced, everything went downhill ... we have had cases where patients have spent two to three days waiting for a bed," said the nurse who asked not to be named.
"Some medical cases are treated in the waiting area and the patients sent home, but surgical patients have to remain ... we have had patients on stretchers for beds when there is an overcrowding," added the nurse.
She charged that: "Some of the beds we get that are donated from hospitals overseas have no longevity. Most times, the remote-operated beds stop working after a few weeks of getting here.
"We can't turn back anyone and this is where all other small hospitals in the region make their referrals to ... sometimes if we do have bed frames, we don't have mattresses, as the patients urinate on them when their relatives have failed to purchase pampers."
The nurse argued that if patients were paying a small fee for medical attention, the hospital would not be going through these problems, among others.
But chief executive officer of the hospital, Alwyn Miller, said the problem of the shortage of beds is addressed when it arises.
"At any one point in the hospital, we may have 91 per cent bed occupancy; it doesn't really go below that. During some periods, we may have bed shortages; it's nothing new, it has been an ongoing issue. However, when this happens, we check with the neighbouring hospitals and put strategies in place to fix the problem," said Miller.
With about four social cases at the hospital, Miller said 'unclaimed' patients add to the number of persons using the beds at the facility.
The unclaimed patients are persons who have been discharged but nobody has been to the hospital to take them home.
"We have tried tracking the family but they are not interested in coming to get their relatives, so through our Medical Social Work Department we find other accommodations for them," said Miller.