Barbados: Queen Elizabeth Hospital Swarmed

(BARBADOS TODAY) – There is no need to rush the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH). The acute care facility remains well equipped to serve the public even in the face of a second wave of COVID-19.

This was the response of Executive Director Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland and Medical Services Director, Dr Clyde Cave, on Wednesday, after crowds turned up at the Martindale’s Road facility, forcing officials to call for police assistance to maintain order and physical distancing outside.

According to Dr Cave, persons were mainly seeking the services of the clinic and/or the pharmacy, as he likened the unusual rush on widespread panic amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

He suggested that with the closure of some polyclinics, persons have been showing up at the QEH with minor ailments, but noted despite the confusion unfolding outside, operations inside remained orderly.

“As you would appreciate, in order to do this, we would have to have a point of entry control system. I guess that’s been working well. The problem, however, is demand. I think they’re showing up out of anxiety, and also the traditional way appointments had to be made in person at the hospital, which is something we are working to change,” said Dr Cave on Starcom Network’s Down-to-Brass-Tacks programme.

“Those are the kinds of things that affect crowding in supermarkets, police stations and everywhere else and we’re just trying to tell people just be calm. Emergencies are certainly being tended to, but an appointment being made tomorrow as opposed to today is not something you have to risk your health for by coming and jamming up in front of the hospital.

“Obviously if it is an emergency with breathing or the onset of labour or major trauma where you need to call in an ambulance or make it to the hospital, those still happen in that way and the Accident and Emergency Department is still ready for those kinds of real dire emergencies. It’s the ones that are less urgent to medical people but urgent to the patients that are becoming a problem, explained the Director of Medical Services.

Bynoe-Sutherland, however, declared that advance planning was in place for a second wave of the virus and gave the assurance that it was unnecessary to restrict services at the country’s lone general hospital.

The executive director however noted as part of the planning, additional support services are also on offer for exhausted doctors and nurses after almost a year of contending with the virus.

“The mental health of our staff and patients has been considered one of the overlooked aspects of this epidemic and certainly as an institution, with our awareness of this, we are making sure they receive the necessary support. We said to the staff at our meeting that we are here to support each other and we are as strong as our weakest link. So as an institution, we are really pulling together because we recognize that Barbados needs us now to be strong and really hold out and do all that is required to take us through this next phase of the epidemic,” the executive director explained.

“In addition, a lot of our staff are tired. They have been working for long hours on very short notice. You would have heard that we stood up extra isolation facilities in practically record time and had to respond to an increased demand for services at Harrison Point… and persons often forget that we still have the regular sick people in this country to look after,” she added.

In the meantime, persons seeking non-emergency medical assistance are asked to contact the hospital’s 24-hour help desk at 536-4800 instead of simply showing up for medical assistance in non-emergency cases. The public is also reminded that pharmaceutical delivery services are also on offer.

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