AT the commissioning ceremony of the new Level 4 & 5 Triage Area at the Scarborough General Hospital last week, Secretary for the Division for Health Agatha Carrington said patients can now experience shorter wait times and an overall improvement in the delivery of healthcare.
Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) has recently modified the system in its Accident & Emergency Department and Carrington said this move is the first of many steps towards and improved patient-centred health system.
She said this was a project started by past CEO Godwin Richardson to improve the emergency room’s efficiency.
“This is nowhere near where we want to be, but we are at a point where we have improved services," she said, "We want to acknowledge that our emergency room is for emergencies only and that persons coming here must be handled quickly. But we live in an environment where persons present (themselves) for care that is not an emergency and therefore they are made to wait for a long length of time.’
She added, “When I look back to some of the complaints, we really have been doing some good work, and we have had in this same emergency room in 2016 over 44,000 visits, and of that we have had 24,000 of them to be new visits. In 2017, over 40,000 and 2018 figures were similar, so it means people have been coming. We have had revisits as well because if the service was not good, we would not have had people coming back in.”
For the patients who were admitted, 273 were transferred to Trinidad. “It means to say our emergency room is doing good work; it’s only in cases where we think we cannot manage they are transferred. Transferring patients is at a great cost and we are trying not to run the cost up, we are trying to utilise the skills here in Tobago to provide the services that are required,” Carrington said.
Acting CEO Michelle Edwards-Benjamin said this move will in fact improve the patients' experience while accessing services at the TRHA. She said, “We are celebrating the creation of a system with the aim of improving our responsiveness to the public through better streamlining of the patients who come to the A&E department.”
However, she cautioned the public that this new service is not to be abused. She said, “While having a separate care facility for patients who are at triage level 4 and 5 may seem like an invitation to come to the A&E for non-emergency cases, we must underscore that your health centres in our primary care unit should still be accessed for this care as far as possible.The TRHA remains focused on quality of care, patient safety, timely response and accuracy of care.”
She added the authority will continue to make adjustments in its operations to ensure the quality of care in Tobago is at its maximum.
Ingrid Melville, chairman of the TRHA, also expressed her pleasure in the establishment of the new system. “We are mindful we have an important role to play as we are called upon to promote health and wellness of the clients we serve. We have developed a system which is more user-friendly and which will allow for better health outcomes,” she said.