24-hour wait in A&E flood crisis


Tribune Staff Reporter


THE ACCIDENT and Emergency Department at the Princess Margaret Hospital experienced a series of challenges over the weekend, forcing some patients to be relocated to the South Beach Clinic and others to wait for more than 24 hours in some cases, according to Heath Minister Dr Duane Sands who described the public hospital as the Bahamas Power and Light of healthcare.

In an interview with The Tribune, Dr Sands said flooding from a broken pipe took the CAT scan and ultrasound machines out of commission causing significant delays to those needing diagnostics. In addition, he said there were no available beds on the female medical ward and unfortunately some patients had to sleep in cots in the hallways because “there was just no room.”

Dr Sands the “perfect storm” was caused by years of “dumb and inappropriate decisions” and he is “honestly not sure” when a solution to the “mess” will be found.

He said even with seven doctors and 14 nurses on duty over the weekend, there was “just no way” everyone could have been seen in a timely manner, when the “clinical space is filled to the brim.”

“There was a flood from a broken pipe that immersed the electrical wiring to the CAT scanner and the ultrasound equipment,” Dr Sands said.

“We had a huge number of people who required scanning, more than a dozen, and despite having arranged for dedicated transportation by ambulance to Grosvenor and Doctors Hospital and having established relationships with those facilities, you can imagine the added delay. You combine that with no female beds in the hospital and you have a logistical nightmare,” Dr Sands said.

“As a routine, many people have confidence in PMH and they come there for most of their care. This has been a problem for years and the community clinics unfortunately are not open in order to decompress PMH adequately. So given this peculiar perfect storm, we decided to open up the South Beach Clinic on Saturday and Sunday as we get our diagnostics capacity back on stream. We have 60 beds out of commission and a number of other challenges to (providing) care. I do not know what is going to happen to the CAT scanner, we believe it will be able to be brought back into service but flood immersion of the electrical system of a sensitive piece of equipment is not a minor problem and it’s not only the CAT scanner, it’s also the ultrasound and so if you add this challenge now to a system which is already under siege, you get an understanding of why and how long the public is inconvenienced.”

Dr Sand said opening all the government clinics over the weekend was not an option because the government “simply does not have the millions it will take when we already owe millions.”

“Again, we have more than 60 beds taken out of circulation and we have bills that have not been paid. Vendors have stopped supplying the hospital with medication and some are threatening to withdraw certain services. That is the reality and solving that reality isn’t something that you just flip a switch,” he said.

“People ask why we don’t just open all the clinics. Well how are you going to pay the staff when you owe millions of dollars to the staff already? This place is the BPL of healthcare, this is the continuous power outage of healthcare. What you are dealing with is a legacy of dumb decisions and inappropriate decisions that have led to this mess. What we have to do now is to fix it, but saying you will fix it, won’t fix it.”

Dr Sands is encouraging persons who do not have a “bonafide emergency” to visit the government clinics before going to Accident and Emergency.

“We are trying our best and we will work through this in trying to sort out the healthcare needs of the public. I know some people have a hard time knowing whether or not their problem is an emergency but notwithstanding that, there are some problems that are clearly not, we are just asking people not to game the system.”

In May, Dr Sands said the former Christie administration left more than $25m in unpaid bills for medical equipment, rent, drugs and salaries at the Ministry of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority.

Dr Sands also claimed that despite a plea from the managing director of the PHA for just under a million dollars to repair the major hospitals in the healthcare system, the money was never made available, resulting in 67 crucial beds “being taken out of commission.”


Well_mudda_take_sic says...

Christie, Halkitis, Simones, Gomez (the doctor), Maynard-Gibson and Frank "No One Dumber" Smith and others like them all belong in prison for gross negligence and careless disregard for life in connection with their abuse of public office and the public's trust! These people are de facto murderers!!

Posted 17 July 2017, 10:32 a.m. Suggest removal

sealice says...

can you lock up the dumbarses that voted for them at the same time?

Posted 17 July 2017, 10:53 a.m. Suggest removal

OMG says...

Already in excess of 1 million dollars (excluding purchase price of land) has been spent levelling a hill for the new mini hospital in Central Eleuthera. And the work is not finished. Surely it is time to take a stand and cancel / postpone these expensive projects especially as clinics on the island do not have adequate stocks of basic medication.

Posted 17 July 2017, 11:21 a.m. Suggest removal

ThisIsOurs says...

I never understood the practice of leveling hills on islands that are at sea level, that face global warming and yearly hurricane threats. Another national security risk no one's paid attention to for forty years.they should stop that practice immediately. National security needs to be "national" security, it's not solely "crime" or "terrorism". Mother Nature, Pestilence, Pandemics, Drought, Famine, Financial Collapse of Industries etc etc

Posted 17 July 2017, 12:05 p.m. Suggest removal

SP says...

You, sir, are speaking Greek to the Burmese! Lucrative contracts with hidden strings were the order of the day for decades here.

Common sense as you speak of played absolutely no role in the decision-making process. That's the reason our country is dysfunctional today.

Posted 17 July 2017, 2:30 p.m. Suggest removal

birdiestrachan says...

Doctor Sands is talking to persons who he believes are fools. and below him . Does he
want people to forget that the FNM left a one hundred million dollars over run on the Road project alone in addition to other bills. Bills come in every day, he should give some Bahamian some kind of common sense and stop talking foolishness. If the economy does not improve
their song and dance will be short lived.

Posted 17 July 2017, 11:40 a.m. Suggest removal

Naughtydread says...

But you did receive new road infrastructure did you not Birdie? The PLP cannot finish any initiative or project they ever start, its always a setup from the get go and the Bahamian people receive essentially nothing or end up worse off then they were before the project even began. No one is falling for your governments empty promises Biridie, Bahamians have finally had enough.

Posted 17 July 2017, 1:10 p.m. Suggest removal

observer2 says...

As long as we have politicians running hospitals (or anything else for that matter) not will get better.

Posted 17 July 2017, 11:45 a.m. Suggest removal

themessenger says...

Strange thing, Birdie starting to sound just like Bradley Roberts. Maybe they should take the advise of another PLP, Philip Galanis, as he stated in the Guardian this morning; " Sometimes people need to shut up."

Posted 17 July 2017, 11:57 a.m. Suggest removal

birdiestrachan says...

The Messenger just after you and others on this site including Galanis shut up . Then I will
until then I will carry on smartly.

Posted 17 July 2017, 12:19 p.m. Suggest removal

realfreethinker says...

birdie now that's an oxymoron " birdie and carry on smartly" lololol

Posted 17 July 2017, 2:52 p.m. Suggest removal

tell_it_like_it_is says...

Definitely sounds like the former administration left a mess. However, Dr. Sands you're in power now. What are your proposed solutions to fix it? No sense just crying about it now. What is your plan?

Posted 17 July 2017, 3:17 p.m. Suggest removal

John says...

A few years ago when Doctor's Hospital (WEST) was on the market for sale, I suggested the government purchase the facility along with surrounding properties. The idea was to use the existing facility as a foundation (stepping stone) and build out a new. state of the art, full service hospital over a period of years. Because of the location, the hospital could provide both local and private care and while taking some of the burden off the Princess Margaret Hospital, it can eventually generate revenue for the government. No only is it unwise to have all of the emergency care at one facility, for a growing population that is spreading out, but The Princess Margaret Hospital is just too over crowded and too overtaxed. I have witness doctors and other care givers have to wade through sewerage from broken or overflowing pipes to render care to patients. The money for a brand new, state of the art hospital may never be available all at once, but if government was to identify a location with sufficient property, and start with say emergency services and commit to completing a full service hospital over a say 10 year period, utilizing each part of the facility as it is completed, then that's how the country will afford a new hospital.

Posted 17 July 2017, 4:39 p.m. Suggest removal

Porcupine says...

This is an indictment of The Bahamas.
Not just BPL.
Not just PMH.
Not just Road & Traffic.
Not just BahaMar.
Not just NIB.
Not just BTC.
Not just Bahamas Air.
Not just a FNM or PLP.
This is a reflection of The Bahamas.

Posted 18 July 2017, 7:04 a.m. Suggest removal

Well_mudda_take_sic says...

*Repost:* BJ Nottage certainly did not have to worry about the serious problems involving our country's public healthcare system. Unlike most Bahamians he was very privileged to receive the best available private medical care in both the Bahamas and the U.S. at the expense of Bahamian taxpayers. Minnis was dead wrong in allowing in excess of $250,000 of U.S. medical costs and $50,000 of funeral costs to be added to our country's national debt for the benefit of the family of a former cabinet member (and long serving insider) in the most corrupt government we have ever had...to date. We will now have to pay interest to lenders for these borrowed amounts at a compound annual rate for untold years to come. Just like his corrupt brother Kendal Nottage, who was a long serving cabinet minister under past Pindling-led governments, BJ served for many years as cabinet minister (an insider) in corrupt Christie-led governments. BJ chose to play the role of loyal soldier to Christie and the PLP party notwithstanding his inside knowledge of all the corruption that was going on around him and that no doubt he too personally benefitted from. He therefore had no loyalty to the Bahamian people and it is the height of hypocrisy for Minnis to have saddled the taxpayers with these significant costs. One must ask why did Minnis do this? Is it because Minnis's own OBG medical practice, that is presumably being cared for by other medical practitioners in Minnis's absence as PM, stands to benefit from picking up a sizable portion of the medical business that BJ and his younger partners have enjoyed over the years? Who knows? But something does not smell right here. BJ's estate surely had the means to pay his U.S. medical costs and his funeral costs. The $300,000 plus dollars should have been spent towards fixing water fountains and restroom facilities that are in a deplorable (often non-functioning) state in so many of our public schools. Minnis and his cabinet members need to get a grip on the reality of our country's situation and stop throwing "feel good" money around that our country does not have to spend and must borrow at the end of the day!

Posted 18 July 2017, 9:33 a.m. Suggest removal

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