The bloodshed from an unprecedented wave of gun attacks and murders is draining the national hospital’s limited emergency response resources, Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic has warned.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY he revealed the extent to which the frequent shootings have severely tested the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s Accident and Emergency’s capacity.
But the Minister has outlined a series of measures the hospital has introduced to divert non-emergency cases away from the country’s only public casualty and trauma unit.
Lieutenant Colonel Bostic said: “It is not only a case of the murders but in particular gunshot wounds because those require a lot more attention at the Accident and Emergency section of the QEH. It is having a serious impact and it is something that is creating some serious challenges for the team there.”
So far, 30 people have been murdered this year, more than in the whole of last year, with most killings from gun violence.
To make matters worse, this unfortunate complication comes at a time when Government’s plans to expand the physical infrastructure of the Accident and Emergency section of the QEH, has encountered several stumbling blocks. Bostic revealed that the architect contracted for the job has resigned and given the complexities of the project, finding a suitable replacement was not the simplest of undertakings.
“With regards to the physical expansion of the A&E, we have had some challenges there. For example, the architect who was dealing with the project resigned and architecture and engineering within a hospital or any medical facility setting is not the same as the average building that you are constructing. It is very specialised. So, there was some setback and we are at the stage now where we have a team together that is looking at one or two alternatives to what we wanted to do.”
But he expressed confidence that work would begin on this phase of the project by next month.
And he insisted with a number of changes introduced thus far, such as the creation of units to handle minor cases and for short hospitalisations, the hospital’s staff have managed to cope with the added pressure.
He told Barbados TODAY: “In the interim, the board and management of the QEH has instituted some initiatives that so far have been achieving the aim of taking the pressure off Accident and Emergency.
“For example, I am speaking of the Minor Cases Unit and the establishment of a second physician-led triage station (where illness and injuries are assessed for severity and assignment). So, if you are non-emergency, they refer you to the minor cases unit, where the wait time is much shorter.
“The A&E is for emergency cases only., if you have a mass casualty situation or you have someone coming in with a gunshot wound, you are given the priority.
“We also have a Short Stay Unit; so if, for example, you have been prescribed with medication or you are waiting on results, instead of having you accommodated at A&E, which means you are taking up bed space, you will go to that unit until you can be assessed.
“So those initiatives have significantly reduced pressure at A&E.”