REHAB RUSH! - Violence and motor vehicle accidents put pressure on Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre
The high crime rate coupled with the seemingly never-ending number of motor-vehicle accidents are paralysing the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre.
Dozens of persons who have survived motor-vehicle accidents, stabbings, gunshots, and children born with congenital abnormalities have been left to sit at home and deteriorate, as the only integrated treatment and rehabilitation facility for the physically disabled in the English-speaking Caribbean just does not have the capacity to meet the demand.
The Mona-based facility, established in 1954 in response to Jamaica's most devastating outbreak of polio, is now bursting at the seams as it struggles to deal with the scores of persons seeking treatment.
With bed spacing at the facility stuck at eight females, 24 males and 30 children at any given time, many persons in need have to be placed on a long waiting list.
"There is an increase in violence in the society. Also, the population has increased since this institution was built in 1954 while the capacity, unfortunately, hasn't increased," said Dr Rory Dixon, senior medical officer at the facility.
not enough space
"We always have people waiting to be admitted, so we have a waiting list of easily 30 persons at a time. So just by mere physical space we are not able to satisfy the need," added Dixon.
He said the ideal would be for persons who have been left disabled to be transferred to the centre immediately after their wounds have been treated at the hospital, but due to the lack of space this is not what obtains.
"Invariably, they come here as early as a month and as late as six months after the fact, mainly because they have been waiting," said Dixon.
"What happens is that once their initial wounds are healed like, say, at the Kingston Public Hospital, they are actually sent home, because the hospitals can't afford to keep them. So when they go home that's when a lot of them develop complications like pneumonia and stuff like that."
According to Dixon, until the physical infrastructure at the facility is expanded, there needs to be a community rehabilitative type of service, where persons can go into the homes of victims and provide the assistance needed to take the burden off the institution.
The burden being placed on the facility has also had a negative effect on members of the disabled community who usually seek treatment there.
One member of the neighbouring Cheshire Village, a small community located in Mona for the physically challenged, charged that the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre "it is not the place it used to be".
"First time when you used to be down by the Village they use to make sure they take care of you, but now they are diverting from that, so you have to go University (of the West Indies) Hospital or somewhere else, when here used to be the designated area," declared Joel Brown as he sat in his wheelchair .
"It sucks the life out of a disabled person when they have no feelings in their limb, and with the people who train to deal with these things giving you a cold shoulder it is just a hard life," added Brown.
Dixon, who was an orthopaedic consultant at Kingston Public Hospital before joining Sir John Golding as acting senior medical officer in 2006, said problems at the facility are compounded by the inadequate attention being paid to some patients who are at hospitals.
According to Dixon, these patients sometimes develop severe pressure ulcers, or what is more commonly referred to as bedsores.
Persons who are admitted to the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre with bedsores take longer to be rehabilitated and provide a further delay for others waiting for treatment.
"Persons who come here, they don't develop bedsores because we have a programme where to prevent bedsores what you have to do is turn a patient every two hours, so if they are lying on their back you turn them on their side. They are not paying as much attention to it in the regular hospitals," said Dixon.
"If they don't have that ulcer, that bedsore, the process takes around three months. If they come with a bedsore, and some of them come with multiple bedsores, you have a double problem, because you now have to treat these bedsores until they heal, and based on how severe it is we move from three months to up to a year sometimes."
There are now some seven patients at the facility who have bedsores.
"So what it means is that as we speak there are persons at home and in hospitals waiting to come here, because the bed spaces are literally blocked," said Dixon.