ACUTE overcrowding at the San Fernando General Hospital has led to the cancellation of elective surgeries from today until Friday.
In a memo dated March 19, acting Medical Director Dr Colin Jaggernauth advised all heads of departments of the decision due to overcrowding in the accident and emergency department. He said only patients who are already warded for procedures will be accommodated.
CEO of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) Keith Mc Donald confirmed that the chronic overcrowding problem at the region’s main hospital, which serves over half the population of Trinidad, has been worsened by the closure of Petrotrin.
Prior to last November’s closure, Petrotrin workers and their families would have sought medical treatment at the company’s Augustus Long Hospital in Pointe-a-Pierre. That hospital had approximately 70-beds and provided from simple to surgical procedures.
With the closure of the company, the hospital was also shut down and former Petrotrin workers and their families are now burdening public health institutions, namely the SFGH.
Mc Donald confirmed that the SFGH is now absorbing approximately 25,000 more patients who would have sought service at Augustus Long.
“In the past, if we saw about 3,000 patients a month, now we are seeing that number every two weeks. We suspect that because of the closure of Petrotrin a bigger influx of patients are now depending on the services in the Oncology and medical departments at the SFGH. It’s a massive number of people we are seeing now, obviously demanding more beds.”
Mc Donald said approximately 50 patients are admitted to the hospital daily. He said although Dr Jaggernauth has issued the memo, they would continue surgeries that would not require the patient to stay overnight.
“So we are not pushing people away.” He also said that at this time, they are in the process of cleaning the air-conditioning ducts in the theatres but other theatres would be available for surgeries.”
Former medical director Dr Anand Chatoorgoon said it is unfortunate that patients who would have waited over one year to get an appointment for elective surgery would not be able to get their procedures done.
Chatoorgoon said he believes overcrowding was down to poor management at the SFGH. He said patients are not being aggressively discharged because CT scans are down once again, and doctors are reluctant to discharge patients without a proper diagnosis.