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Milton Cato Memorial Hospital on March 21, 2024.
Milton Cato Memorial Hospital on March 21, 2024.
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By Sheldon Bramble 

The local jokes about the close proximity of the hospital to the cemetery have been the talk of Vincies who for decades felt the helplessness of those who have lost a loved one at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH). The claim the loss is due to some neglect on the part of medical personnel or the lack of resources and proper workflow at the facility. Legitimate or not, we are definitely still lacking in many ways, medically speaking.

Many of us, however, have seen the growth in some aspects of our health care and at MCMH and the lift in some of the infrastructure and professionalism there. The outpatient clinics, radiology and laboratory are areas which among others are definitely shining. There are many who quietly work against great odds and who are sacrificial in their service across the facility. Many of these persons are neither trained nurses nor doctors but need to be recognised for their essential hard work. Most of these we are proud to say are locals. This is indeed commendable. But this is not the full story. 

There is still a reluctance on the part of some medical workers to keep the families and loved ones of patients clearly informed as to their condition and of medical procedures and processes in a respectful manner. Many times, one has to wonder what the next step in their care is because of this lack of clear communication. 

While some staff are cordial and happy to share in an appropriate manner, there are those who behave like they should never be approached or asked a question. Communication with patients and their families is as important as record-keeping and hands-on duties with patients. Among others, their deportment is subtly one of self-importance and irritability rather than service and a love for the profession in which they are engaged. This attitude, however, needs to be stomped out of the medical profession in our hospitals and clinics. Kindness and patience with persons who are distressed over illness or their loved ones should be part of the work ethic of people offering medical services. There is absolutely no excuse for this. If there are professional challenges, grumpy behaviour need not be directed at patients or the families of patients.  And if the hospital lacks some resources, it needs to be communicated to patients and their families ahead and in a somewhat apologetic manner rather than implying that the patient is expecting too much.

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When quick money is at the forefront of people coming into the medical profession and our country is used as a means to jump from pretended honest and ethical service to independent greedy and corrupt dealings then that is a big problem. Medical doctors demanding money under the table at facilities that employ them, misdiagnosing, abusing house calls while offering poor service or not pointing patients to proper specialists are among some of the ills in the profession that are becoming prevalent, especially among some of the foreign medical practitioners taking up residence here. Vincentians ought to speak out and expose these maladies. The thing about the medical profession is we would hardly find a medical doctor speaking out about the malpractice or unethical behaviours of another. This is also true to some degree about other medical professionals. No one wants to ruin another’s career or have theirs tarnished. However, there has to be some way for people to be held accountable for their unprofessional and dishonest dealings with the public seeking healthcare. Are there channels for this set up? Where can one report such experiences?

As to those offering mysterious medical scans and alternative scams, there is a need for something in place to protect the uninformed and vulnerable. SVG is starting to see every kind of corrupt business practice like the rest of the world around us. 

One of the most annoying experiences at Milton Cato is having to line up for the steward’s office for an appointment or to make a payment. The lines are long and the physical space is grossly inadequate. The elderly and young, many of whom are experiencing adverse health, are kept waiting and standing in the heat for long periods. There is only one person for each of the roles behind a tiny window. This is a shameful and sad state of affairs at our national hospital and needs urgent attention and change.

In addition, there is also a lack of adequate seating outside hospital ward entrances and in hallways where people await visiting hours or the completion of a procedure done on a loved one. It makes one wonder if there is an administration who is in touch with the everyday experiences of the public using the facility. Yes, the facility is small, but we cannot conduct business day in, day out for months and years like this while we wait for better infrastructure. There is no rationale that can justify these immediate needs not being met.  

Ministry of Health and Hospital Administration, please help us.

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