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Thursday 22 August 2019
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Service at San Fernando General ‘stinks’

File photo: The San Fernando General Hospital.
File photo: The San Fernando General Hospital.

DR ANAND Chatoorgoon says the service at the San Fernando General Hospital, where he served as medical director, “stinks.” He said overcrowding in the emergency department is bad, and chastised all the heads of departments for being unable to get a handle on the situation.

Chatoorgoon’s stinging criticism came after his 92-year-old aunt, Kushmawati Girwar, who suffered a stroke, could not get a bed at the hospital, in spite of his intervention. He said she spent two days languishing on a trolley in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department, unable to bathe or be cleaned, because there are no screens or privacy.

He eventually had to take her to his home, where she is being cared for. Chatoorgoon, who is now in private practice, said his aunt’s nightmare began on January 12, when she fell and had to be taken to the hospital.

On that first occasion she spent the night on a gurney in the A&E and was given a bed after lunch the next day because, “I kept begging and begging the nursing administration and pleading. She stayed for a few days and was discharged on January 14.”

He said Girwar, who is like a second mother to him, was taken to a home, but owing to a shortage of nurses it was unable to keep her. Arrangements were made to bring her to his home on January 15. While being transported by ambulance, she started having chest pains and was again taken to the SFGH.

Chatoorgoon said no beds were available but the consultant said she wanted to do some tests. Out of respect for the consultant, he said, he allowed his aunt to stay on the gurney until a bed became available. However, he said, after almost 24 hours in that position, “with soggy Pampers, and still no promise of a bed, I signed a discharge against medical advice (DAMA) and took her out.

In a letter to chairman of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) board Valerie Rawlins, copied to director of health Dr Albert Persaud, Chatoorgoon expressed his disappointment at the overcrowding. He said the situation has got progressively worse under their watch.

Chatoorgoon, who posted his cellphone number throughout the hospital when he was MD, said he is still inundated with calls “from desperate relatives and loved ones about the terrors and horrors of your ED. The system you have in place stinks. It is a nightmare for the poor patients who have nowhere else to go but to come to the SFGH. And you, Valerie and Albert and your CEO, have all failed miserably.”

Calls to Medical Director Dr Robin Sinanan were not returned. CEO Keith Mc Donald said the letter had not been not brought to his attention but once it is, he would certainly investigate.

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