Damion Mitchell, Editor - Radio & Online
While many people were picking up paintbrushes, machetes and shovels yesterday, a team of doctors and other medical practitioners at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) donned surgical gowns, gloves and masks and were picking up their scalpels as they tried to cut the overwhelming backlog of surgical cases at the island's premier referral medical institution.
Each year, the KPH undertakes 1,200 major surgical operations and 12,000 minor ones, but another 1,000 people whose cases are not considered dire are placed on a growing waiting list to make way for trauma cases and other emergencies.
"We always have a backlog of surgeries," said hospital CEO Godfrey Boyd. "It is important to understand that as the population starts seeking better health care, especially given the economic situation, we are going to get more requests for our services."
However, Boyd said given the competition for theatre space and medical personnel, the priority always has to be given to the life-saving cases.
It's why a 45-member team of doctors, anaesthetists and nurses decided to use their Labour Day to undertake a project to bring relief to some of the hundreds of patients who have been hanging on to hope for their day in the theatre before their conditions worsen.
"We started at 7 o'clock and at 11:30 a.m. We had managed to complete 13 of the cases, which is really a record for us," said Dr Clive Thomas, chairman of the Department of Surgery.
By the end of the day, the doctors had successfully carried out 19 surgical operations.
Dr Natalie Whylie, head of the Ear, Nose and Throat Department, explained that many of her patients needing surgery to remove tonsils and salivary glands, as well as other patients needing hernia repairs, are often affected by the delays since they have to make way for cancer and trauma surgeries.
"This is our effort to say to the nation that we are committed to the delivery of the highest level of health care to our clients and the nation as a whole," she said.
Whylie also thanked her colleagues who decided to volunteer their time and skill towards the labour of love.