Regional Health Officer (RHO) of Region Seven, Merlene Ferrier, yesterday sought to “clear the air” on a recent report which suggested that officials of the Bartica Hospital failed to facilitate a patient’s transfer to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
According to an article published in last Sunday’s edition of this newspaper, a resident of Bartica, Beverly Constantine, related that her mother, Gladys Constantine, after becoming injured was taken to the Bartica Hospital for medical attention.
The woman related that nurses at the medical institution had informed her that her mother had to be transferred to the GPHC since that hospital (Bartica) was incapable of dealing with her mother’s injury.
The woman had disclosed that although she had told the nurses that she could not afford to have her mother taken to the city, the hospital offered no assistance, a notion which was categorically refuted by the RHO.
Offering her version of what transpired, Ferrier said that the patient arrived at the hospital around 22:30 hours on December 24, with relatives who related that the 62-year-old woman had fallen a few days ago and was experiencing some pain.
Ferrier divulged that an x-ray was done on the patient and the attending doctor had written a referral for the patient to seek further attention at the GPHC.
But according to the RHO, “On many occasions the hospital would stand the cost of referrals for some patients—patients who are either critical or are a matter of life or death cases.”
She further related that once it is recognised that relatives can take a patient to seek further medical attention, the doctor would usually advise them to do so.
However, it was noted that the relatives’ intervention in the case of the injured Constantine was encouraged since there was also a shortage of nurses on duty at the institution because of the Christmas holidays.
The senior health official said that the relatives opt to take the woman home the night she was examined and had informed the doctor that they would take the patient to the GPHC the following day.
The very night Ferrier said that a relative informed her that the patient was experiencing pain thus causing her (Ferrier) to advise the relative to bring the patient back to the hospital or call the hospital and seek some guidance.
A nurse subsequently volunteered to visit the patient’s home and a stretcher was offered to assist with the transport of the woman the following day, Ferrier said, adding that the nurse had even offered the relatives to call an ambulance to assist the process.
“At no time at all during the course of our conversation did the relative ask for any financial help. There are occasions that we do offer such help to those who make a request but at no time at all did this relative ask…
“The next thing we knew is that we saw the article in the paper. Even after taking the patient to Georgetown some (people) would come in and ask for reimbursement or some assistance and either myself or the Regional Executive Officer (REO) would grant them this favour…either we reimburse them money or part of the money. “
According to the RHO, the hospital is only responsible for the patient if it is a dire emergency, noting that in the case of the injured patient the hospital was not obligated to facilitate the referral.
Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy, in an attempt to justify the state of affairs, explained that there are two types of referrals that are customary within the health system.
“There are the referrals where the hospital has admitted a patient and the patient is the responsibility of the hospital, and the hospital has made a transfer to another hospital…that is not different from what you find right in Georgetown.
“Then there are those referrals that are made where a doctor has seen a patient as an out-patient and has provided treatment and made a referral for the patient to go someplace else; that is the responsibility of the patient and their family.”
However, in some cases, when either type of referral is made, particularly in hinterland areas, they are financed by the health system.
The Minister noted though that such cases occur from time to time, adding that each case is judged on its own merit.
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