Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
UHWI, KPH operating without reliable CT scan machines
TWO OF the island's major public-health facilities are again without properly functioning CT scan machines, resulting in patients struggling to have scans done promptly.
The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) have been forced to seek alternative ways of handling patients who are in need of the service.
The UHWI has been without a functioning CT scan machine for about two weeks, while KPH's equipment works irregularly.
According to a doctor at UHWI, the machines are overworked and are not being properly maintained. The doctor argued that an arrangement is being worked out for the service to be done at Andrews Memorial Hospital where the UHWI would stand the immediate cost, but the financial burden would then be transferred to the patients who would be billed for the service.
Senior medical officer at KPH, Dr Patrick Bhoorasingh, said although the CT scan machine is in a better condition than before, it is not always reliable.
"It goes up and down, sometimes it works, sometimes it does not, because it needs servicing, and it is a hard-use machine," explained Bhoorasingh.
As such, the KPH has no choice but to engage private health care agencies and institutions, but the list of patients in need keeps increasing.
Additionally, he said the absence of the important equipment creates a backlog in the cases, and it also delays the treatment for the patients.
"We have to do it on a case-by-case basis. We have to look at each case. If there is a dire emergency, we have a system for that. If we have the machines working, we will do it, which is much faster," he said.
Bhoorasingh added that when patients get the service done privately, it does not go against the free health care policy as the Government absorbs the cost.
"Because the machine is not working, the Government is committed to pay for the patients, so there is a procurement procedure in which we procure it from them, and there is another option, which is called payment in kind, where the private institutions usually get a duty waiver from the Government when they bring the machine in, and they pay it back by offering the service to the public patients," he explained.
Efforts to get a comment from the CEO at UHWI, Dr Trevor McCartney, proved unsuccessful as calls to his phone went unanswered.
However, one caller to our newsroom reported that his wife was taken to the UHWI last week with what her private doctor had diagnosed as a minor stroke.
But after a 12-hour delay, officials at the UHWI told him that the CT scan machine was not working.
In frustration, he took his wife to a private institution at 3 a.m. where she was promptly seen and the test done.