Sat | Sep 23, 2017

The state of Jamaican health care

Published:Thursday | July 13, 2017 | 7:00 AM

THE EDITOR Sir:

The state of Jamaica's health care is a problem that is being covered with a band aid, when it is a festering wound that needs proper attention. As a medical doctor at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), one of the nation's largest public hospitals, we are faced with examining and treating patients in areas with minimal or no lighting in suboptimal conditions.

The doctor- and nurse-to-patient ratio is still too high. The minimal staff that is present has to be doing the job of five other persons for each patient on wards that are always filled to capacity, and overflowing many times. The nursing staff in this country deserves the highest praise as without them, the country's health care would go down the drain in the blink of an eye.

I shall not mince words in listing issues that are of paramount importance and needs to be immediately addressed.

The average doctor works gross 88 hours per week, with 17 hours of break for lunch and rest spread throughout that time period.

Patients' beds don't function: most beds cannot be wound up, and so patients who cannot lie flat have to have their beds propped up on cardboard boxes.

Lights at patient's beds do not work, and most of the ceiling lights are blown. Therefore, patients are being treated in low-light conditions.

Cheap IV accesses, which I would only use to train on a dummy, are placed on patients. These accesses shred veins if you aren't a young healthy person.

Lack of general supplies and maintenance on the wards: broken soap dispensers, broken paper towel dispensers.

If the vision is to make Jamaica a place to live, grow, and raise children, the health sector needs to be addressed. A single member of parliament cannot have an $8.34-million phone bill while the supply of medication and basic resources are in short supply on the wards of the country's major public hospital.

A prescription needs to be written for the Government of Jamaica to take and address all these issues.

Dr Edward Nigma

A disgruntled doctor