The discarding of patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has now reached crisis stage.
In fact, over the past twelve weeks some insensitive Barbadians have left no fewer than 40 persons at the Accident & Emergency Department, some of whom do not need medical attention.
This comes after the fact that the hospital was able to clear the hospital of dozens who were left stranded there as the island’s primary health care facility rolled out its COVID-19 action plan.
Barbados TODAY understands that at least three of these persons are under age 35, while the rest are in their 40s and over.
And according to Director of Medical Services (DMS) Dr Clyde Cave, the issue which has now reached a worrying stage is having a crippling effect on the other services of the hospital, particularly the surgery department which has a long waiting list.
Dr Cave explained that prior to COVID-19 the hospital had been doing about 50 surgeries per day and there was still a waiting list.
To give an idea on how dire the situation is, Dr Cave told Barbados TODAY that the space taken up by those 40 persons who have been abandoned was equivalent to two wards at the facility that could be used to care for persons who really need it.
“It is constantly a fresh batch. This is a longstanding problem that has gotten even more difficult to deal with during COVID. These patients have minimal needs but because they are in the hospital we can’t not look at them with a doctor and a nurse, they still have to be taken care of. These are people who do not need hospital care. They could be elsewhere where they could be well cared for.
“But because they are on our premises, not only do they take up medical and nursing resources but they take up beds and these are beds that we would be expecting to use for our elective surgeries. So we can’t put an elective surgery on a list, bring them in and do the surgery, and then have no beds to keep them on,” he said.
He said going back to what he described as the “old normal” is going to be difficult even as the country fully reopens due to minimum cases, because there are not enough beds to put patients who have had surgery. Only urgent, emergency, and time sensitive cases were being seen during the peak period of the pandemic in Barbados.
In addition to reaching out to families to come and collect their relatives who are ready to be discharged, Dr Cave said the hospital was now trying to work with relevant government agencies to see what can be done to remedy the situation.
He said the issue goes beyond the hospital and was really “a societal problem” where members of society needed to realize that they have to find a solution for the care of their elderly and ill loved ones.
“We are exploring every avenue available to us but the Geriatric Hospital would obviously have to accept them because we can’t take them over and drop them off. We can’t just drop them off unless the appropriate arrangements are made between the appropriate ministries and those care homes to look after the people.
“We can’t take them back to the relatives and just drop them off either. So really, while everybody agrees that they should not be in hospital we could only try and ask the people who should have them to accept them,” Dr Cave said.
“It’s one of those cases where it is really compromising everything we do and it is part of the reason that there is a back-up in the A&E Department right now because we don’t have beds in the hospital. Forty people are practically two wards and that’s the kind of turnover of acute cases from Accident & Emergency that we should be working with,” he added.
The Director of Medical Services further explained that recently, A&E experienced an issue where operations in the department were at a standstill because of the high volume of people.
“So much so that we had patients backed up on corridors on ambulance trolleys like in the old days and that really should not be happening now that there is the risk of COVID.
“We are lucky that right now the prevalence of COVID cases in the country is extremely low, but should that change we still have to maintain personal spacing and all the appropriate things we should be doing.
“We cannot have the number of people in A&E like we used to before, but when they show up we have to find a way to deal with them,” he said.
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