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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Little change at QEH

Dr Frances Chandler, [email protected]

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Little change at QEH

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I AGREE WITH Eric Lewis that there’s nothing like a good laugh. It’s medicine for the soul. A costume party I attended some time ago provided me with some of this medication. The theme was “Your  Worst Nightmare” which inevitably brought to mind  our politicians.

One guest’s worst nightmare was when she dreamed of listening to our Prime Minister speak in Parliament. She gave some clips from what she heard in her dream: “Semper in excretia sumus, solim profundum variat,”  he declared, which translated means, “We’re always  in manure – only the depth varies”. Then there was “Though they beg, I only speak ‘a bene placito’  (at my pleasure)” and “though the populace brands  us sanguisugent (blood-sucking), we shall press on with ever more taxes.” Lastly, “the NIS nipples are sore; time for these Bajans to feel a little ablactation (weaning from mother’s milk)”. She, of course, wore  a dictionary as a headpiece.

Another guest’s nightmare was their experience with a medical emergency: the ambulance with a flat tyre having to pass by a repair shop before collecting them, the welcome committee at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s (QEH) Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department comprising a vagrant begging for a dollar, a security guard telling patients on arrival to “sit down dey!”, a nurse complete with devil’s horns and tail asking: “Wha’ wrong with you?” and a doctor saying that “if ya lucky, I’ll see ya in a few hours”. But the part that made them break into a cold sweat was when the newly introduced tombstone department came around asking them to choose their design. Thank goodness they woke up at that point, relieved it was only a dream.

It was amusing, but truthfully and sadly, some of it bore a fairly accurate resemblance to all my experiences at the A&E. Which moves me to again plead with the new owners of the Bayview Hospital to follow through on their reported plan to transform Bayview into a full-fledged emergency hospital. But, although this would help solve the problems of those who can afford to pay, it would do nothing for the plight of those who can’t.

True, during my recent visit to the A&E, I did notice some new curtains and the place looked a bit cleaner, but the same chaos reigned. There seems to be absolutely no system, and it appears impossible to get answers from anyone. Apparently, too, you’re expected to provide someone to look after your patient until they’re seen – which could be any time. Those patients who can’t move aren’t offered a glass of water even if their wait is 12 hours.

When the patient eventually reaches the ward, it’s another story. The particular ward I visited had only a few over-bed tables, so apparently patients are expected to eat off their laps – a bit difficult for an elderly person with a broken bone. The response to an enquiry about the possibility of having a table was: “You would like to donate one?” Maybe the recent donation of reclining chairs for staff might have been better directed here.

Then there’s the reported problem of cancer patients attending the Radiotherapy Department for radiation on a Monday, only to be told they should return home since repairs being done on the weekend resulted in the department in general being unserviceable. That’s quite a pity since I’ve always considered that department to be the “shining star” of the hospital.

It’s good to see that the polyclinic in St John has finally opened and is offering a wide range of services. Can we dare hope that this will help take some pressure off the A&E and result in better service? And are the extended hours for some of the polyclinics and redirection of those who aren’t true emergencies to these polyclinics working well?

When will we see any real change at the QEH? As I’ve said before, a new building won’t help if the attitude doesn’t change. I challenge Minister John Boyce to disguise himself with a grey wig and beard, refrain from speaking since this would “blow his cover”, and arrive at the A&E in a private car. He would almost certainly receive the same reception described above and perhaps would then appreciate how grave the situation is.

Again, I repeat my plea to Bayview, please give us an alternative.

Dr Frances Chandler is a former senator. Email [email protected]