St Ann’s Bay Hospital waiting period to be cut by December
Waiting long hours to see a doctor at the St Ann's Bay Regional Hospital is still a daily occurrence but should soon be a thing of the past, according to regional director at the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA) Fabia Lamm.
When The Gleaner visited the hospital recently, the outpatient department was packed to capacity, with more patients waiting underneath a tent at the front of the building.
Antoinette Christie, of Ocho Rios, had awakened earlier that morning feeling very dizzy as her blood pressure was high.
Fearing the worst, she went to the St Ann's Bay Regional Hospital.
She was not prepared to wait over nine hours to see a doctor.
"I come to the St Ann's Hospital from four minutes after eight this morning. Is now five o'clock and mi nuh get to si the doctor, and mi come dung here with dizziness with mi pressure high," Christie complained to The Gleaner.
"A still feeling sick right now an' I still don't get through."
That morning, too, Erica Webb of Rio Bueno in Trelawny decided to take her sick daughter, Shamora, to the hospital in an effort to get treatment for her.
She said they reached the hospital at eight o'clock. They were still there at five, waiting.
"They need to move a little faster," Webb suggested, noting that she had other complaints as well.
"Sometimes when you go to them, they talk to you certain ways, and so forth. Some people who mi come si inside there same way, but some who come si mi get through and gone. Whole heap a people, whole heap."
A man who had accompanied someone to the hospital and was waiting outside, claimed he had a similar experience last year when he took his three-year-old daughter for treatment.
He said he was there "fi hours" before he finally got through.
"How mi get through? Mi haffi tell dem where mi work, an' mi need fi get to work. A government work, and one a di girl seh shi a put mi ting up a di top," he claimed.
He declined to give his name.
Christie, in the meantime, believes that a return to the numbering system would ensure that patients are treated on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Christie argued that by the calling of names, some names can easily be placed above others. Not so with the numbers, she said.
Lamm acknowledged the long waiting period but said plans were already being implemented to alleviate the problem.
"By mid-December, we should not see those numbers in outpatients and accident and emergency," she promised.
According to her, improvement work is being carried out at the St Ann's Bay Health Centre in order to accommodate some of the patients who visit the outpatient department and "who should really be going to the health centre".
"We have also extended the opening hours at the health centre. It is now open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m."
Patients who turn up at the hospital and are diagnosed as having conditions that can be treated at the health centre will be transported there. This should begin by the middle of November, Lamm stated.
"We have the staff and the additional facilities at the health centre to take care of any increase in numbers, and they will be afforded the same level of treatment at the health centre as they would at the hospital."
The outpatient department at St Ann's Bay Regional treats well over 3,000 persons monthly.