'Hey, big bottom girl!'
Rude patients irk medical personnel
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
While persons who visit public-health facilities often complain about poor treatment meted out by the health-care professionals, doctors, nurses and others in these facilities are also complaining about the level of disrespect they receive from people seeking medical help.
According to Dr Shane Alexis, president of the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ), the treatment meted out by the ill and the ailing to many of the health professionals is appalling.
"We have to remind the public how to engage ... many of you have written articles about the treatment of patients at hospitals but these patients forget the simple things like good morning, please and thank you," Alexis told a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum.
"Nobody feels good when she is addressed, 'hey, big bottom girl, come here' ... those are the kinds of things that you hear in some of the institutions to staff members," complained Alexis.
"These are mothers, grandmothers, sisters, they are people as well ... we absorb a lot from the health sector but patients also have to realise that they are responsible for how they engage with fellow citizens," added the veteran medical doctor.
He stressed that engagements must begin on a positive note, with Jamaicans understanding and appreciating that it is not okay to urinate on the wall of the facility, or to leave a bathroom in a horrible state.
"When we ask the Government to make an investment, the citizenry ought to recognise that you are the same person who is going to return to the hospital for treatment another day or time if you are asthmatic, a cancer patient or pregnant."
Within this context, Alexis diagnosed that a defined vision is needed to address these concerns. "This is a need not just for a better health sector but for improving the society, because it is all interconnected."
Alexis made the call hours before members of the local private sector announced the launch of a 'Respect Jamaica' programme
"Whether it's the little things like holding open a door, giving way in traffic and saying please and thank you through to the big things like treating all people with due deference and calling out inappropriate behaviour, the Respect Jamaica programme is all about standing up for those who can't stand up for themselves," said Jason Henzell, general manager of Jake's Hotel.
"Ultimately, this is about pulling together to build a better future for the children of Jamaica," added Henzell.
In the meantime, Alexis rejected suggestion that the MAJ was trying to deflect the blame from health professionals who have often been accused of being callous.
"I will not agree with that. I have never condoned or sided with anyone accused of misconduct during interactions with the media. When it is bad, I will come out and say we take responsibility through the principle of collective responsibility, and say as health professionals, how we expect persons to conduct themselves and the standards we uphold."
Alexis divulged that internally, the MAJ has circulated reminders to its members. "We have also helped persons, and having identified that as a weakness, we are working to strengthen and identify other areas that need similar treatment."