Despite recent stepped-up security measures, the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) remains vulnerable to attacks, with at least two of its current entrances presently unmanned by security personnel.
Following complaints received from some members of staff, Barbados TODAY visited the hospital this week to carry out its own investigations into the reports of laxed security at the main public health institution
At that time, there was a visible security presence at the front of the emergency ambulance bay, where visitors and staff now have to use swipe cards to access the north-eastern gate next to Accident & Emergency Department (A&E) and the western gate in the area of the mortuary.
However, this was not the case for at least two of the hospital’s other entrances. Staff highlighted a path leading into the hospital via the cafetaria.
Barbados TODAY was also able to walk through a restricted area of the hospital unchallenged by security. In fact, about ten minutes after entering the off-limits area, a nurse was the only one who raised questions about the paper’s presence in that section of the hospital.
By that time Barbados TODAY had already passed through the unattended entrance, wandered through the corridors of the hospital and back out again on the opposite end of the health care facility.
When Barbados TODAY informed Chief Executive Officer Dr Dexter James of what had been allowed to take place, he admitted that promised security measures were not yet fully in place.
However, Dr James explained that following the recent introduction of hand-held scanners in A&E, the hospital’s security was being upgraded on a phased basis. Therefore, he promised that security measures, including enhanced lighting and scanners, will be implemented in the remaining sections around the QEH very shortly.
“Next week we will be able to say more when we work out the implementation schedule and costing,” Dr James added.
When contacted, Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Roslyn Smith said the union was satisfied that, in the face of its present money and other constraints, the hospital was seeking to address its ongoing security challenges as speedily as it could.
Smith, who remains in constant contact with the hospital’s authorities, said the CEO had been keeping the union abreast of developments as they unfolded.
As far as the medical doctors were concerned, they too, have concerns about security at the hospital.
However, public relations officer of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) Dr Linda Williams told Barbados TODAY that BAMP’s leadership had not been able to meet with the CEO in recent times to be updated on whether those concerns had been met.
Security at the island’s lone general hospital came into sharp focus back in April, following reported threats to staff by an armed man, claiming he had lost a loved one at the health institution.
At that time there was a temporary suspension of visitors on April 29 before the hospital announced a set of stepped up security arrangements.