Thu | Jan 18, 2018

Public flogging of KPH brings doctor close to tears

Published:Wednesday | December 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Dr Hugh Wong, head of Accident and Emergency at Kingston Public Hospital.
Dr Cherian Cherian, general surgeon at the KPH, speaks with The Gleaner.

The Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) has taken a beating over the years for what the public says is its failure to deliver the service it was created to provide. But this merciless flogging has brought at least one doctor close to tears, as he believes many practitioners continue to make sacrifices under austere circumstances, for which they are oftentimes not recognised.

Dr Hugh Wong, head of the Accident and Emergency Department at the institution, was among several doctors and administrative staff speaking with The Gleaner in recognition of its 240th anniversary at the hospital on Monday.

Wong noted that while he was not daunted by critics, a concerted effort must be made to create better conditions for both staff and patients.

"I've been here for 20 years. I've seen where our annual visits have moved from 45,000 to last year, (when) it was like 84,000. [We have] the same space. The wards haven't increased in capacity, and we have actually decreased in the number of physicians. Basically, we are doing twice the work compared to when we started in 1994," he said.

"Despite this, the work is being done, though [the conditions are] very trying and difficult. ... We often feel unappreciated; sometimes it's tearful," he lamented.




The doctor added: "We are unappreciated in the public's eye, in the media's eye, and sometimes, I go home and say, 'We do all this work and when I sit and speak with my friends who work elsewhere, this attitude doesn't exist.' Working below Torrington Bridge at KPH is sometimes not seen as a badge of honour, but sometimes seen as 'Why are you there working?', but we come out and we drive down every day," he said.

The medial practitioner said he is encouraged by the fact that he feels safe working at the institution, in addition to the fact that KPH is a reputable institution globally.

"We feel safe in our environment because we treat who we treat. We don't know who we are treating, we just treat," he said.

"People don't know this, but every year, we get requests from medical students from the [United] States to come to my department to spend a few weeks. It just shows that people think that we are doing a good job, and if we are doing a good job, we will continue doing that," Wong told The Gleaner.

"We provide a certain level of service that, without us, it would be anarchy. Nobody else could do it. We are one institution [where] we can't say no. There are other institutions in the same region which say, 'We can't take you. We have no beds.' KPH has no beds, but patients arrive and we take care of the patients."

Dr Cherian Cherian, general surgeon, echoed similar sentiments, noting that human resource has been one of the hospital's strengths over the years.

"During the period I have been here, it's almost common practice to hear the negatives associated with KPH. I look at KPH as infrastructure and people. Yes, the infrastructure, perhaps, has lagged behind, but a lot has been done," he said.

"What makes KPH stand full of potential is the human resource. I think we are poised in a situation where currently, as opposed to 10-15 years ago, we have human resource that can actually push the envelope when it comes to care."