NORTH Central Regional Health Authority CEO Davlin Thomas has promised communication between hospital officials and relatives of covid19 patients will be improved.
On Wednesday, during the Health Ministry covid19 media conference, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh was asked about complaints by relatives they had been waiting for days for updates on the status of patients at Couva Hospital. Deyalsingh had replied he was unhappy with health officials' communication with relatives of covid19 patients.
"It is is concerning me," Deyalsingh said. "The level of communication needs to be improved. I admit that freely."
He reported he had a meeting scheduled with the chairman and CEO of NCRHA (under whose purview Couva falls) to resolve the issue.
Thomas, speaking to Newsday in a telephone interview, said there were some communication issues between patients and relatives and this was highlighted in the meeting with the minister.
"(With covid19) we've been on the run as we've been going. We were fixing the bicycle as we ride it. So basically as the numbers increased our inherent capacity to provide those kinds of services would have been less of our focus."
He pointed out NCRHA has been increasing the number of nursing staff and patient escorts.
He also confirmed there were complaints from some of the relatives who had been victims to the broken communication lines. He said one of the issues is the complication of identifying who is the next of kin, and explained some people may say someone is their next of kin in an emergency situation but then this would change after.
Thomas said the plan to resolve the communication issues is the hiring of patient liaisons from this week who would verify who the patients' contact is, and call and give a daily update. He said these liaisons would have social worker core competencies to provide medium and long term interventions and they are looking at least 10 so far.
"We want to be able to give as wide a coverage as humanly possible."
He said prior to the liaisons coming on stream the interim solution is a team that included representatives from the human resource training department, quality department and corporate communications department. The management would meet with the team every day following their interventions, find out any salient issues, and address them as fast as they emerge.
He also said there will be psychologists and psychiatrists to go through the system, adding that both patients and relatives are under immense pressure.
"So we implemented some systems and we are improving them as we go. Because you know we have other pressing issues as the numbers were escalating. But we should have that under control within the last week and the families should see some improvement in the communications."
He added: "And this is virgin territory. But we are up to the task."
There are currently 78 covid19 positive patients at the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility, 29 at Caura Hospital and four at Arima General Hospital.