Wed | Oct 28, 2020

WRHA blames ‘social patients’ for bed space shortage

Published:Tuesday | August 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/ Gleaner Writer
Errol Greene, chairman of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA)


Errol Greene, chairman of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), is blaming the current bed-space shortage, which is crippling operations at the Savanna-la-Mar Public Hospital in Westmoreland, on social patients, who occupy needed bed spaces at the expense of genuinely ill patients.

In an interview with The Gleaner yesterday, Greene said that in some cases, the relatives of such patients bring them back to the Type B facility even after they have been released, while in other instances the patients return on their own volition and refuse to leave.

"We have a number of 'social cases' taking up bed space in the hospitals that we have to look at. We have social workers that are looking at that issue, but even at Savanna-la-Mar, I get reports from the parish manager that even when the patients are fit enough to go home, and we put them in an ambulance and take them home, the family brings them back the next day," said Greene

"You also have one particular gentleman [at Savanna-la-Mar Hospital] who walks in and out as he pleases. He panhandles, and when he's ready, he checks himself into the hospital and checks himself out and those are someof the issues we are facing."

The WRHA boss noted that Savanna-la-Mar Hospital's space problem is aggravated by its inability to refer patients to the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in St James, which is currently undergoing rehabilitation work to eradicate the noxious fumes at that facility.

"We don't have the space at CRH because it's been reduced from its 450-bed capacity to about 50 per cent of that, and Savanna-la-Mar Hospital would not be able to send or refer patients to CRH as they used to, so they have to try and manage on their own," said Greene.

Last December, it was announced that a new block would be built at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in order to address space shortage. The new block's construction, slated for this year and budgeted at $300 million, would increase the hospital's bed count to 300.