New Amsterdam Hospital plagued with drug shortages, other issues

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…Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services hears

Members of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services on Thursday, March 2, visited the New Amsterdam Hospital where they met and interacted with hospital officials, staff and patients in an attempt to examine the hospital’s operational procedures in relation to emergency health care.

Members of the Committee who were a part of this “fact finding mission” included: Chairperson Dr Vindhya Persaud, MP, junior Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Valerie Garrido-Lowe, MP, junior Minister of Public Health Dr Karen Cummings, MP, among other Members of Parliament.

Dr Persaud, the Chairperson of the Committee explained that though hiccups are expected in any organization she is primarily concerned about the complaints of medication shortages and inability to have tests done which were made by patients she met on arrival at the Hospital.

The Parliamentary Sectoral Committee also has the mandate to examine whether institutions are equipped to meet their responsibilities and make recommendations for improvements it can make.

The Committee was made aware of the severe shortages of many medications on their visit to the pharmacy. The Materials Management Unit (MMU) had shortages of many needed medications and this hampered the hospital pharmacy from providing patients with basic drugs.

The Director of Health Services related the procedure involved him calling the MMU to ascertain if medications based on the list supplied by the Pharmacist were available.

Moreover, the Committee was informed that the doctors in the operating theater also were unable to perform surgeries over the last three months leading to a backlog of cases.

Furthermore, the biochemistry machine was not working since last year preventing necessary tests from being carried out for that hospital and those in the region.

The Committee heard that the ‘innovative and enthusiastic’ employees came up with their own initiatives many times to cater for the health of their patients.  Also raised were staff shortages in the labs and attendant department.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hospital, Collin Bynoe briefed the Committee on the services provided at the hospital and the challenges faced. He placed special emphasis on the fact that the hospital caters for a population of more than one hundred and twenty five thousand (127,000) persons but only has seventy doctors (70) in its employ.

He raised several other concerns including poor maintenance of equipment which, he said, is mainly responsible for slowing down the work of the staff and pointed out that they constantly have problems with their air conditioning units.

Another issue was the small size, lack of privacy and deplorable condition of the doctors’ “on call room”. The CEO explained that a new “on-call” room is presently being constructed but lamented that this will take a few months before completion and doctors are in the mean time forced to make do with inadequate facilities.

Bynoe also outlined positive developments at the hospital which included the construction of the High Dependency Unit at the front of the hospital. He explained that the hospital will be expanded with the construction of a new maternity wing complete with its own theatre, delivery room and cubicles to accommodate fathers so that they can have a view of their wives delivery.

Dr Persaud, the Chairperson of the Committee explained that the Social Services Committee has the responsibility to scrutinize and examine policies and administration for each sector under its purview and to determine whether they are in consonance with the principles of good governance.

As such, Dr Persaud said, the Committee will make a report concerning their findings and table it in the National Assembly, with recommendations which can and should be acted on.

According to the Committee, more details will be released in the formal report which will be laid in Parliament.

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