Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association vice-president Carol-Ann Birchwood-James has complained of two instances where the triage system at the Accident & Emergency Department of the Scarborough General Hospital appeared non-existent."You need to have somebody there to do your triage, to say who is dying and who only have a little cold and could wait. And you need to have that 24 hours. It is our hospital. We do not have another. We do not even have a private one," she said on Tuesday at the Scarborough Library.Birchwood-James was speaking during a public consultation hosted by the Kelvin Charles-appointed task force, which was established last November to examine the operations of Tobago's health sector.The task force is headed by Chief Administrator Bernadette Solomon-Koroma and includes former Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) Ashworth Learmont; Dr Anton Cumberbatch; human resources manager Carol David; and Cecile Beckles.Birchwood-James told the small audience about an incident on Carnival Tuesday in which one of her relatives had to visit the Accident & Emergency Department at the hospital.Birchwood-James said she arrived at the department minutes after her relative and found her bending over a counter in extreme pain.
"She could hardly talk and nobody was there to give her a wheelchair,"Birchwood-James said.
She said a cleaner eventually got a wheelchair for her relative."The clerk ignored us because she was filing something and another nurse was there but she was more interested in writing something in her book."Birchwood-James said after waiting for about ten minutes, another nurse attended to her relative."We were allowed to bypass everybody, the patients gave us a chance and she went into the Accident & Emergency inside. At that point, a doctor took over and the care was excellent."Birchwood-James said an Accident & Emergency Department must live up to its name."When you get there that front look should be that this is an emergency place."She said there also should not be more security guards in the department than professionals."There is no triage person, whether is nurse or who to say, 'Look, this person needs to be seen right away.'"Birchwood-James said she encountered the same problem when her husband was previously ill."I know a triage person is supposed to be there, but they were not."Birchwood-James recalled a triage system was in place at the old Scarborough Hospital."Does new mean better? The old hospital, by the time you come up there and you mash your brakes, the fellas are outside with their wheelchair."She said attendants should be in the reception area."Attendants cannot be three doors behind in air condition...You need somebody in front so that when you come there and you are not feeling well or you are going to have a heart attack, that somebody is there already with a wheelchair or you can summon a wheelchair right away so you don't have to lift your relative inside."She said cleaners should not be getting wheelchairs for patients."Let's start with the basics. We have a new hospital and we are glad for it but we have to up our standards. And basic things like a wheelchair, we cannot be asking a cleaner for that. We are paying people to do that. And, if we need more attendants, then let's hire them."