This week I had the misfortune of being forced to use the services (so-called but quite absent!) of the Skeldon Public Hospital which resonated with other negative reports of poor, inhumane (mis)treatment at other public hospitals. My family doctor insisted that I go there immediately for oxygen and an X-ray before proceeding by ambulance to the Woodlands Hospital in Georgetown for specialist attention.
My family accordingly called for the ambulance attached to the Skeldon Public Hospital which is a stone’s throw away from our residence. I soon realized that it was a mere building with the misnomer of a hospital. This completely negative impression is based on the very arrogant, non-empathic attitude of the staff and virtual absence of basic amenities. The staff were like inanimate fixtures attached like posts to the building devoid of any humane quality, professional pride or sense of being of service to the poor souls who are forced to seek their unwilling help.
First of all the ambulance arrived and waited for me; it was still facing my house instead of the road; the doors were open to the opposite side of the steps so I had to walk around to ascend the vehicle while the driver and attendant were still standing nonchalantly outside. It took about five minutes before we could leave my yard; I got the feeling that I could have walked across to the hospital in less time. As we arrived with the ambulance at the hospital, it took several minutes before the doctor moved from his ‘gaffing’ with others standing around him to come in and arrogantly ask me what was wrong. In the meantime I noticed two other patients waiting in the beds in the waiting room and being completely ignored while writhing in obvious discomfort.
After some perfunctory processes, I was put into a wheelchair to be pushed across the compound to another building that housed the X-ray unit. The ride in the wheelchair pushed by a hefty, aggressive attendant, reminded me of the taxi and minibus drivers on the public road ‒ rough and hitting every hump and obstacle on the way to the X-ray unit where the technician was already loudly complaining about having to wait after 4 pm to attend to me. She roughly and rudely went through the motions of taking the X-ray with equipment that looked so unkempt that I felt uncomfortable to touch it as I was barked at by the attendant what to do and wait for the result which in any case I was not allowed to take with me to the specialist in Georgetown! I naturally wondered what was the use of taking the X-ray.
The ambulance was then ready to take me to Georgetown. As I re-entered it I was told by the attendant that I had to lie down on the ugly, dirty, metallic ‘bench-bed’ for the ride to Georgetown. The siren of the ambulance was perfunctorily put on and it added considerably the feeling of riding in a rickety old truck. When I asked the attendant if she was not going to put on the oxygen, she blandly told me that there was no oxygen! I could not fathom the absence of oxygen in an ambulance taking a patient with a suspected heart condition from Skeldon to Georgetown. I felt there was no need for the ambulance so I directed that it be stopped so that I could join my family who were following the ambulance in my car and we continued on the way to Georgetown in the better comfort and speed of my car.
As we arrived at the Woodlands hospital, the entire experience of getting me ensconced was so diametrically opposite to what I had experienced at the Skeldon Public Hospital that I now feel obliged to report it publicly with my personal recommendation that the government should seriously consider shutting this and possibly all other public hospitals which from previous widespread reports are no different from the Skeldon Public Hospital; the taxpayers’ money thus saved can be put to better use. Sick people, no matter how poor they are, should not have to endure such uncouth public service behaviour for a virtual non-service. The government owes all its citizens, rich and poor, corrective action or let the private hospitals take over for stipends paid to them from the savings of shutting down the so-called public hospitals as is the case in more progressive countries.