Trinidad’s San Fernando Hospital hit by blackout

(Trinidad Guardian) An elec­tri­cal black­out at the San Fer­nan­do Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal left pa­tients hun­gry and in tears yes­ter­day.

The hos­pi­tal, which ac­com­mo­dates more than 750 pa­tients, went dark around 1 pm. Be­fore the black­out, pa­tients were told that elec­tri­cal works had to be done and there would be a dis­rup­tion in sup­ply from 1 pm to 7 pm.

When the T&T Guardian vis­it­ed the hos­pi­tal around 5 pm the cor­ri­dors on the low­er floors were in com­plete dark­ness.

Vis­i­tor Ra­jesh Ma­haraj, who went to Ward One, said, “You need a torch­light to go in there. The whole place dark and it is not even night time as yet.”

Shan­ti Lokai wiped sweat from her brows.

“It so hot in there I could not take it. I had to leave. I don’t know how they ex­pect peo­ple to stay in there.”

One the first floor of the Neo-sur­gi­cal Unit, a male pa­tient was seen bare­back on the cor­ri­dor and sweat­ing pro­fuse­ly.

“I am feel­ing so sick in there. I can­not un­der­stand how there is no gen­er­a­tor. I am pray­ing that the cur­rent will come back soon,” he said.

He added that the worst part of the black­out was the clo­sure of the kitchen.

“They gave us some bread and milk and said that is sup­per. We can­not get any food be­cause the kitchen is closed so we have to pray that some­one vis­its to bring us some­thing to eat,” he said.

An­oth­er pa­tient who re­quest­ed anonymi­ty said he ex­pect­ed that many peo­ple would be dead by morn­ing if the elec­tric­i­ty was not re­stored soon.

On the third floor of the hos­pi­tal, sev­er­al preg­nant women sat on bench­es out­side the hos­pi­tal ward. One woman who iden­ti­fied her­self as An­jalie said she was wor­ried.

“I am get­ting pain and I don’t know what will hap­pen. How will they care for my ba­by if some­thing goes wrong?” she said with tears in her eyes. How­ev­er, she said the nurs­es nev­er left the ward and were tak­ing good care of every­one de­spite the un­bear­able con­di­tions.

“I don’t know what is hap­pen­ing to our health sec­tor. How could the hos­pi­tal be with­out lights?” she asked.

A man who was stand­ing on the cor­ri­dor looked dis­tant and un­hap­py. When ap­proached by the T&T Guardian he said, “I have to be strong for my wife. She will make the ba­by any­time. I am grate­ful that the nurs­es are tak­ing care of her.”

A nurse was seen lead­ing the preg­nant woman from the wash­room.

A med­ical source at the hos­pi­tal said the ba­bies from the neona­tal unit were tak­en to the San Fer­nan­do Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal pri­or to the black­out.

A doc­tor at the hos­pi­tal said the elec­tric­i­ty sup­ply had been giv­ing prob­lems for the past two days.

“Sec­re­taries could not work be­cause the com­put­ers kept trip­ping off and the gen­er­a­tor was not kick­ing in so they de­cid­ed to shut every­thing down and work on the prob­lem,” he said.

Con­tact­ed for com­ment, the hos­pi­tal’s Med­ical Di­rec­tor Dr Al­bert Per­saud said the black­out was sched­uled.

“We are re­plac­ing the trans­former but ser­vice is go­ing on as usu­al de­spite the elec­tric­i­ty,” Per­saud said.

He added that on­ly part of the hos­pi­tal was af­fect­ed and elec­tric­i­ty was ex­pect­ed to be re­stored by 5 pm. How­ev­er, dur­ing the T&T Guardian’s tour of the fa­cil­i­ty, the en­tire hos­pi­tal ap­peared to be in to­tal dark­ness.

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the South­west Re­gion­al Health Au­thor­i­ty Kei­th Mc­Don­ald could not be reached for com­ment as calls to his cel­lu­lar phone went unan­swered last evening. Min­is­ter of Health Ter­rence Deyals­ingh al­so could not be reached for com­ment.

The San Fernando Hospital in darkness.

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