Third World Hospital (Redux)

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Originally posted as a comment on Barbados Free Press:

I am nine months pregnant, and due to personal circumstances at about eight months I could no longer afford private medical care for my pregnancy. So at this point in my pregnancy, I have to go to the hospital once a week for a check up. Now while the doctors themselves are great, and I have no complaint about the actual medical care, the processes by which things are done in the hospital is nothing short of awe-inspiring six years into the 21st century.

Just to get an out-patient card, it took two visits where all the requirements were not explained to me#8230 three hours sitting down outside the Medical Records department patiently waiting to be seen for a process that actually took less than five minutes to complete.

The ante-natal clinic is horrendous. My first time I was given an appointment for 8am, and I showed up at 7.45am thinking I was early, only to discover that I was number 41 to be seen. It took from 7.45am to 1.15am to be seen by a doctor.

Plus there is this enormous amount of PAPER#8230 and nowhere did I see a computer except in the accounts department. Just reams and reams of paper. Numbers are handed out on bits of cardboard.

In the ante-natal clinic, there is no air-conditioning, there are not enough seats for the women that come there, so often if you are late you are doomed to stand up in a room that is not ventilated properly. Can you imagine what this is like when you#8217re seven, eight, nine months pregnant. Sitting is not easier either. The chairs are all hard and uncomfortable, and there is no water fountain much less a water dispenser. A bottle of water and four or five glasses is provided for sometimes as many as sixty women.

After the first time, I got a clue and now wake up at 5.30am to get to the hospital early enough to get a high number so I can leave there at a reasonable hour#8230 let#8217s say around 10.30am.

I cannot complain about the actual medical care#8230 that in and of itself is good, because the best doctors on the island do work at the hospital. However the quality of the facilities is abysmal, and the processes for doing everything extraordinarily backward for a hospital in 2006.

Socialised health care is all fine and good, but last week after being admitted to hospital for observation after the discovery of a heart murmur, I can tell you being comfortable in the hospital is completely in the patient’s hands. The beds are uncomfortable, the food awful, there is no privacy, no toilet paper in the bathrooms, no sense of dignity#8230 and there is a tendency among the nurses to treat you either like a half-idiot or a child. There is NO DIGNITY to being a patient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

But if you cannot afford private care, it is better than nothing, right? Except how awful is it that you have to trade off on so much, your comfort, your dignity, your sense of well being in order to be taken care of medically.

I was wondering though, what will happen next year during The World Cup? I cannot imagine QEH dealing with an influx of a disaster#8230 it would be bedlam, and I can see how the bureaucracy of the internal systems could lead to some stupid stuff happening.

When I tell my friends in the US that I cannot even draw the curtain around my bed for some privacy, they cannot believe me. They say in the US the patient#8217s right to privacy is paramount#8230 in QEH, only doctors draw the curtains#8230 patients cannot do so.

I think that socialised health care is a good thing, but I feel as though in the case of Barbados more should be done to make patients feel human instead of meat passing through an abattoir. They should spend some money on the beds, and the quality of the food I ate on the ward for pregnant women was nowhere near what I would consider ‘healthy’ or adequate for the feeding of a pregnant woman.

:sigh: Ok#8230 flame off.

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