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Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. (iWN file photo)
Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. (iWN file photo)
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The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]

This article is intended to update the relevant stakeholders and to inform interested persons that it is vital that persons wishing to take direct international flights to St. Vincent and the Grenadines should possess a clean bill of health and boost their immune system so that the likelihood of needing medical attention in St. Vincent will be non-existent or close to zero per cent.

This comes in the light of the state of medical services at the Accident and Emergency Department at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. It was just after 2 p.m., after facing unbearable pains that I headed to that department. At 3 p.m., a nurse working at the front desk had gathered all the relevant information pertaining to my arrival for service at the department. Some others I met there informed me that they were there since 9 a.m. but had not yet received any attention. They were hoping that after 4 p.m. medical attention would be coming their way. Everyone in the waiting area had already seen the nurse, so it was waiting time for everyone to see a doctor. It was approximately 15 – 20 patients in the waiting area.

A call came close to 4 p.m. requesting ambulance service for a patient in medical emergency situation in the Fair Hall area. The ambulance, which was parked in the yard, left an hour later at 5 p.m. to go for the patient as it was awaiting the provision of a full oxygen tank. It was the last trip between that time and 11:30 p.m. that an ambulance had left the compound based on an emergency call. No other vehicle brought any patient in emergency during that timeframe.

Persons were now saying that they hope they will be given attendance soon. This was about 5:30 p.m. as chatter continued among the patients who had the strength and energy to do so. The first form of attendance given to us in the waiting area occurred after 7 p.m., when a worker came and turned on the television. Some patients who were there over nine hours now gradually started thinking of self-help methods, stating what they will try when they get home and started their departure, so the numbers were gradually dwindling. About 8 p.m., a nurse came with the records calling name to see all who remained, it was now down to about 10 patients as she separated the records of the patients who were still present from those who departed. The patients came to life with excitement as it seemed that attendance was close at hand.

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One patients then said, for those who are not aware, the system here is to have you waiting until it is unbearable so that you will depart and so the doctor will have little to no patients to see. One lady visibly in pain who suffered a fall and complained of shooting back pains eventually braved the pain and departed after 9 p.m.

Approximately 10 p.m., a gentleman walked in greeting some he knew, smiling and laughing with them, who, in conversation, said he’s obviously not well that’s why he came here with a little laughter. Well, it must have been another form of emergency. He then walked inside saw a nurse and within 8 – 10 minutes he had received medical attention by a doctor. He came out with prescription in hand and said: “I remember the days when I had to wait 8-10 hours in this waiting area, but when you on this earth for 40 years you must know some people.” Another patient remarked, “It is the same 8 -10, the difference for you being, instead of hours it’s reduced to minutes.” He obviously knew some nurses and doctors working in the institution. He chatted a little more and then left. About three other walk-in patients had the same luxury because of who they knew on staff. They received immediate attendance.

One doctor appeared busy sending emergency text messages on her personal mobile phone, a nurse likewise. I was surprised that another nurse who appeared to be a superior told her to come off of it. She seemed not to consider that the nurse may have been sending emergency WhatsApp messages. At this time I was lying on a bench in pain, unable to sit up anymore, it was now 11 p.m. I wondered how I would get home, with vans in my area no longer on the road.

Another patient who was complaining of severe head pain was also lying, while someone with her proceeded to ask a nurse, when could the doctor be seen why such lengthy waiting period. He was told that only one doctor is working who must see every patient in the ward before anyone in the A&E waiting area could be seen, therefore no time frame can possibly be given. The only exception to this was for the VIP walk in who carried invisible labels “who you know” and “who know you”. It was now 11:30 p.m. and I was still in the waiting area. The patients were now reduced to five as the others left, unable to bear it anymore. The words of an earlier patient came through unless you were unable to walk, you can no longer stay.

If you think you will ever get sick, try to get to know personally in advance some doctors and nurses in the Accident and Emergency ward because it’s “who you know” and “who know you”, a special badge which is not given out randomly.

Private doctors; why not open up a night service to help the unfortunate whose health problems display themselves late in the day, when most other services are closed. But then again, from my past experience in some of these private institutions, is not necessarily about severity of complaints that determines the order of attendance, is who you know and who knows you. More polyclinics? Would that be an answer? You may ask, but at the end of the day is who you know or who knows you?

My suggestion would be: if you need to be at the A&E ward, don’t try to make it there on your own because the wait might be eight, 10, 12 or possibly 15 hours. Instead, call the ambulance, let it take you because the wait may be drastically reduced to just over an hour, travel time in addition to 1 hour to equip the ambulance. Do the math, which would you prefer, wait at home one hour or rush there on you own and wait indefinitely?

One person shared their experience of a previous occasion while waiting there for attendance a man came in crying: “My chest!” “My chest!” holding it and showing visible signs of pain and discomfort, while being told he has to wait. It was there in the waiting room that he died of a heart attack only to see a host of doctors who were apparently non-existent appeared on the scene as he suffered the attack trying to raise the dead. So the drama at MCMH A&E continues. So let the international visitors be all in good health, make it an entry requirement at the port, so that locals can have a chance of attendance sometime within 24 hours after arrival.


Still Awaiting Attendance

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

3 replies on “Emergency healthcare access tips as SVG prepares for the influx of int’l visitors”

  1. And they are talking about opening an international airport with no emergency facilities in place. Are we ready?

    No dedicated sea rescue craft

    No hospital capable of dealing with emergencies

    No burns or skin graft unit

    threats of terrorism

    threats of volcano

    threats of runway sinking

    numerous threat of land slip

    Are we ready?

  2. 1. You seem to have quickly recovered enough from whatever real or imaginary affliction you had to write this comment so perhaps you never needed any medical attention to begin with.

    2. This is a third-rate Third World country which gets exactly the medical system the county can afford and its people have voted for since the beginning of party politics.

    3. You say that “it is vital that persons wishing to take direct international flights to St. Vincent and the Grenadines should possess a clean bill of health and boost their immune system so that the likelihood of needing medical attention in St. Vincent will be non-existent or close to zero per cent,” ignoring that over half of visitors are over the age 35, i.e., at a point in their lives where a whole variety of illnesses and diseases can quickly lead to their demise without proper medical treatment. Perhaps such people should be warned by the World Health Organization and other bodies not to visit our healthcare-challlenged country because doing so would place them in a life-threatening situation. Why do you think the hospital was built right next to the cemetery?

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