Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments at hospitals do not provide health care on a first come, first serve basis.
This was made blatantly clear by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh on Friday at the opening of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Sangre Grande County Hospital.
He said patients were seen and attended to based on priority.
“Two mothers come in with a ‘buss head’, but may be comfortable, but the other is having trouble seeing and has nausea... Who would you attend to first?’ he questioned.
This also came on the heels of a viral video of a woman who had a huge tirade at Port of Spain General Hospital several days ago where she was recorded cursing and abusing staff, saying that her friend was not receiving the help he needed.
Deyalsingh said the woman had not taken her “medication” that day and the man was trying to calm her down. Patients were diagnosed on a triage system which had five levels. This meant the patient’s vital information, pressure, heart rate were taken and registered and it was determined whether the patient could await treatment, or need to be seen immediately.
Consultant at the A&E at Sangre Grande, Dr Georgia Beard, said one was seen immediately depending on the symptoms they presented. She said levels one, two and three were the top priority. Level one was seen immediately by a doctor or nurse, while level two was triaged within 10 minutes. Level three was triaged in less than 30 minutes, level four in less than 60 minutes and level five in less than two hours.
Beard said some patients who came in lived in the region and because of the waiting time they would return home so when their names were called, they were not there. Patients were treated according to the nature of their distress and the gravity of their situation.
Beard also urged people seeking medical assistance to visit their health centres who could assist with levels four and five issues, instead of waiting for hours at a hospital where they were triaged to that level and had to wait for several hours.