The New Amsterdam Public Hospital’s Accident and Emergency (A&E) Care Unit is to be separated from the Outpatient Unit after it was discovered that those patients who were not deemed emergency cases have been made to wait long hours for treatment.
Last week, members of the public had complained about new procedures at the hospital and long waiting times. On Wednesday, residents of Region Six held a picketing exercise outside of the institution. The upset residents called for the immediate resignation of Director of Health Services of Region Six Jevaughn Stephens and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the hospital Dr Samantha Kennedy as a result of their dissatisfaction with the service at the hospital.
Stephens yesterday told reporters that the system put in place – the “accident and emergency chart for patients” – was sent from the Chief Medical Officer since 2017. However, it was only recently implemented by the hospital’s new CEO, Dr Kennedy.
Stephens said that the new system is up for review by the Pan-American Health Organization and the World Health Organization in 2020. “So, it was asked that all regional hospitals, including New Amsterdam, Linden, West Demerara and GPHC ensure this system is implemented,” he said.
“The system calls for more detailed information. The chart is four pages, the first part of the chart is basically biographic information on the persons, marital status, name, age and so on, so that persons can be easily contacted if needs be, and the other part called for medical condition, complaints and to have details on that,” he explained.
Stephens claimed that, initially, since the chart system was new to the doctors, it took some time “fulling out the forms and so on and based on that we had very long lines and persons complaining about the time it took to access service at the hospital.”
He said that the issue was ongoing for two weeks. However, they have decided that while the system must remain, they can improve the situation by separating the A&E and Outpatient units, which have been combined since the hospital was opened.
According to Stephens, officials thought this would be the best way after they discovered that the charts are labelled in three categories, immediate, urgent and non-urgent, and that only the immediate forms were being addressed by the doctors, while the non-urgent cases were put on hold for hours.
Stephens said that they have since identified a location at the hospital for the Outpatient Unit and engineers would be working around the clock to ensure that it is functioning before the end of next week. “This would assist in reducing the waiting time for patients,” he said.
He also disclosed that as of Thursday, they had added more staff to the A&E Unit. “I visited there twice, the system seems to be working thus far,” he said. He pointed out too that presently, the New Amsterdam Public Hospital is staffed with a total of 60 doctors, while in total, there are 105 doctors stationed in Region Six. He said the triage area, located outside of the A&E Unit is staffed by two doctors, a nurse, a patient care assistant and a clerk, while the A&E Unit is usually staffed by four doctors, unless additional doctors are needed.
As regards the protest, Stephens said he “empathised with persons who would have felt the need to protest.”
“What I know for certain is that there is no perfect health care system in the world but we try every day to be better than we were the day before,” he said.