Barrington Flemming – Staff Reporter
Bertel Moore, Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, has raised the red flag over what he says is the deplorable condition of the emergency room and a serious problem of overcrowding at the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital in Westmoreland.
Speaking in an interview with the Western Mirror, Mayor Moore says on a recent visit to the parish’s chief medical facility, he was appalled at the poor condition which continues to prevail there and is calling on the authorities to move with urgency to address the worsening condition at the health facility.
“It is deplorable. The nurses cannot function well at the emergency room, which is grossly overcrowded, with patients waiting in wheelchairs and ordinary chairs for up to three days for beds, while their conditions worsen,” Mayor Moore explained.
He said another problem is the number of patients who have been discharged with no relatives coming to claim them, forcing them to remain housed at the hospital.
“This is a really bad situation that we have been trying to deal with. They need to be housed in the infirmary, but the infirmary has no space to accommodate them. We (Municipal Corporation) are trying to see if we can have another building erected there. The drawings have been done but we are not hearing anything about it, despite numerous enquiries,” he said.
Meanwhile, Camile Lewin, Chief Executive Officer at the hospital, when contacted, confirmed that the hospital was in fact reeling from an overcrowding problem which dates back two years.
“There is severe overcrowding at the hospital. A refurbishment exercise was undertaken in 2012 where the bed capacity was increased to 164. So, since the past two years, we have not gone below the 200 mark. And over the past two months, we have been accommodating 230 persons or a little more. And yes, we do have people sitting in wheelchairs for days,” she admitted.
Miss Lewin further explained that while the hospital does not have a shortage of beds, they have serious shortage of bed space as they have used up all available spaces, so it is a major challenge to identify space to place beds for patients.
“What we are proposing is to create a transitional ward and we are consulting with the National Health Fund on this to take some patients from Accident and Emergency to this area, which would be limited in its scope as only about 15 persons could be held there.”
She explained further that the space problem has been compounded by social patients, who have already been discharged from the hospital, but no one has come to collect them and they are housed at the hospital.
“The social cases now stand at 25 patients that really belong to the infirmary who are occupying well-needed bed space. Our numbers are increasing in the emergency room and there is not much we can do on the ward based on the number of social cases we now have,” she said.
She said that some persons would drive up to the hospital and leave patients at the hospital and never return to see them or to take them home when they are ready to leave.