By Concerned Citizen

In this public appeal, I am asking for my ministers and leaders to deeply consider and rejuvenate the healthcare delivered in SVG.

In 2017, SVG’s life expectancy was 72.3 years, this statistic astounds me considering our current understaffed and underfunded healthcare system. My most recent experience with the hospital has left me with yet another loss in my family, making three deaths in three years. I truly believe if we had access to even the most basic healthcare and provision that lives could be extended or saved. My personal losses have moved me to appeal to our great nation’s leaders to make greater strides for investment and prioritize their attention to decent healthcare for all who reside in our blessed land.

I have just lost my mother. Without doubt, this will be the greatest pain I will ever bear in my life. My last days and memories of my time spent with her are filled with despair and frustration at the lack of basic testing facilities and medication within our public hospital.

My own distress has made me question how many others must endure these archaic and out-of-date experiences. On reliving my harrowing experience, I began to question, “Why do I need to go to a private laboratory to deliver my mother’s blood test sample?” “Is this an ethical, hygienic practice that someone has access to someone else’s blood?” I needed answers. Incredulously I was advised that it is common practice for hospital personnel to request this. I am not medically trained but the first thing that comes to mind is “cross contamination”.

I strongly feel the irony that SVG has invested in a state of the art international airport and boasts of progress, yet it cannot provide patients with basic healthcare, if you want people to invest in and visit SVG, the infrastructure to support them is key. Could you imagine a visitor being told by doctors that they cannot have a vital test carried out at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital because the machines are “out of service?”. I was told this more often than not while I was there. My mother died and it beggars belief that there are still outstanding results pending for her at the external testing facility. As the autopsy has already been performed I am left with a heavy heart and wondering if they would have made a significant difference.

I am frustrated and angry that over a four-day period I have spent in excess of EC$500 just on medication as it was not available in the hospital. A hospital without medication!? This also made me reflect about others who may not be able to afford that cost, would they have to endure the feeling they cannot ease the pain of their loved ones? Healthcare should not be a lottery!

I am not a person who complains easily, but one of the most striking memories was abysmal attitude of some nurses, their lack of compassion, empathy and caring has caused myself and family members extreme distress. Nursing is a vocation, a profession that promotes holistic wellbeing. I was reduced to tears when I heard a nurse comment to a patient, “You can groan as much as you want, you will not get tended to any faster.”

Where was her humanitarian compassion? I heard my own mother crying out in pain and discomfort, pleading for painkillers. A nurse who went to “fetch some”, but never returned. To my dying day I will never forget the despair in her voice and my helplessness to assist. How many people feel it is futile to ask for basic pain relief or to be treated with dignity and respect? I must stress that these uncaring individuals should not reflect on the dedication, compassion, understanding and empathy of the few nurses who deliver their profession with great effort despite the obvious challenges they face. These nurses have my endless gratitude, my utter admiration and I ask that they continue to provide the public with their devoted service as they truly are our unsung heroes.

I have also experienced nurses complain about the lack of adequate staff at the hospital. They are constantly struggling to manage the number of patients and are overstretched to the point where they cannot perform effectively. This must weigh heavily on the hearts who joined this profession to make a difference to people’s lives. Everyone has a breaking point and we are going to lose good people due to lack of investment.  Adequate staffing would alleviate the pressure on all departments including “Accident & Emergency”.  I am dumbfounded by number of nursing graduates residing in SVG that complain about a lack of employment opportunities. What incentive do they have to train if they cannot be offered gainful employment in the land they hoped to serve? These nurses could be of great support to the over-stretched doctors. During my painful journey these junior doctors/ trainees have been nothing short of exemplary. Their level of compassion and drive to help the sick is often vastly under appreciated. These doctors gave me hope, faith and reassurance in the bleakest of times and they are indeed worthy of praise.

I would like to conclude with this statement which I hope our nation’s leaders will reflect on: Please, please invest the same time, money and aspirations that were used to construct our beautiful international airport into our woefully inadequate healthcare system, not by building an amazing piece of architecture but to also having trained staff befitting of their profession to run it. I would not wish this agonising, frustrating and painful experience on my worst enemy.

To some she was just another statistic but to our family she was a loved one.

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].

One reply on “A personal appeal for improved healthcare for SVG”

  1. What a truly insightful article, I know of people who had considered retiring to SVG but did not because of the healthcare provided (or not!). I hope that one of the leaders has the courtesy and courage to respond to your article.

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