Princess Margaret Hospital Critical Care Block
By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
MALFUNCTIONING air-conditioning units in the $100m Critical Care Block at the Princess Margaret Hospital have stalled surgeries in the last few weeks, prompting Free National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis to criticise the government for the “unacceptable” situation.
“As a doctor and the former minister of health, I am appalled by the alarming reports coming from Princess Margaret Hospital that there has not been air conditioning in the operating rooms for two weeks,” Dr Minnis said in a statement. “It is unacceptable that patients are being turned away from their scheduled procedures and told to go to Doctors Hospital. Princess Margaret Hospital serves those most in need, some who cannot afford health insurance.
“How can this government ignore the pleas of patients and doctors who have been crying out for help? A functioning hospital for the care of all Bahamians is a basic necessity, yet through the continued ineptitude of this PLP government, many are being forced to go without. We are not a third world country,” Dr Minnis added. “Bahamians have rights and expectations - the right to accessible healthcare and the expectation that it is quality care. They deserve nothing less, but this government is forcing them to delay needed surgery or spend additional funds at a private facility.”
Tosheena Robinson-Blair, granddaughter of 89-year-old Elaine Williams who has been awaiting surgery on a leg since September 13, spoke to this newspaper of her concern about a delay of the operation.
She questioned the Public Hospital Authority’s (PHA) plan of action for patients and their families who have been affected and may not be able to afford an alternative option other than the public hospital.
“My grandmother broke her leg in a fall. She’s supposed to have gotten surgery already but we were told that the air condition units were not working in the operating room so it was cancelled with no new date for her surgery,” Ms Robinson-Blair said.
“She’s in good spirits and I must say that the staff at the hospital, doctors and nurses, have been completely professional and made her as comfortable as possible. It’s not their fault but the family and other families that are likely going to experience these delays just want to know what is the hospital’s plan B?
“Right now, her leg is elevated on her bed,” Ms Robinson-Blair added. “She’s receiving great care from the staff but I’m worried (about) her muscles deteriorating if surgery does not occur soon. I do want to stress that she’s receiving great care and she’s on pain meds so pain is a non-issue but this is something that needs to be expedited.”
Sources close to the hospital attributed the equipment breakdown to recent power outages and said that even with a generator, not much of a difference was made.
Yesterday PHA Director of Communications Judy Terrell-Hamilton confirmed to The Tribune that there were issues with the air-conditioning units, however she could not say what the cause was.
“Our efforts to rectify the matter have been significantly hampered by the inclement weather this week but the hospital and PHA are doing the best we can in the current circumstances to get the units back up and running,” she said.
However, she opted not to comment on the statement issued by Dr Minnis.
The Killarney MP also called on the government to “focus on fixing this problem immediately,” and expressed concern for Family Island patients who would be financially affected by the delays.
The opposition leader called on the government to “inform the public of what steps it is taking to fix the problem.”
“Silence is not leadership. Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away. The FNM will continue to stand with the people and the patients being turned away until this matter is rectified,” Dr Minnis said.