AFTER losing their matriarch to kidney failure, distraught loved ones have complained about the “substandard” dialysis services at Princess Margaret Hospital.
In an interview with The Tribune, a family member, who wished to remain anonymous, described in detail the “horrors” his relative experienced at the Princess Margaret because of the “lack of beds, lack of porters and lack of medicine.” The claims come two months after Health Minister Dr Duane Sands said the hospital is continuing to have significant challenges with overcrowding and a shortage of beds.
At the time, Dr Sands said the situation is “embarrassing” and it is sad people have to stay in the hallways for up to “three to four days” because “there is just nowhere to put them”.
He said the problem will require deliberate structural change, which will not happen in the short-term.
“My relative was 66 and was diagnosed with kidney failure,” the relative told The Tribune.
“When she was admitted to PMH in August, there were no beds so she was placed on a gurney and put in the hallway of the ward.”
“Eventually we were told that someone had passed and so she was able to be placed on the bed but because she had diabetes her kidneys had failed and she went on dialysis. There were times when she needed to be taken to dialysis but she could not be taken down because there were no porters available, or if there was a porter the machines in dialysis were inoperable.
“At one point,” said her family member, “her body took infection because she wasn’t able to go to dialysis and she needed medications for the infection, but PMH didn’t have the medication and we had to source the medication from Doctors Hospital for around $7,000.
“The staff at the hospital were very relaxed about the entire situation like they were accustomed to working in these terrible conditions. They don’t have sufficient staff capable of caring for persons on dialysis and the nurses don’t want to assist the porters,” the relative added, “if there is not a porter the patient won’t go down. This is not just my personal cry, others have the same cries,” he said.
He also said the nurses in the dialysis unit are overworked and frustrated, adding that if something “doesn’t happen very soon” more people will die from lack of resources.
“My family is still seeking questions from the coroners about what really had happened,” he said.
“Yes, she was on dialysis and had diabetes but sometimes if the family didn’t personally go and take her down, or knew a porter, she never went down into the dialysis unit.”
“The Public Hospital Authority,” he said, “must address the situation in the hospital. The dialysis unit is in need of enhancement and it costs lives because the machines and the people that are frustrated in that unit.”
In August, Dr Sands said in order to resolve the problems at the hospital, health officials have to complete the renovations at PMH, increase the hospital’s capacity, get patients in and out faster and take non-essential services out of PMH.
In July, the Accident and Emergency Department at PMH experienced a series of challenges, forcing the hospital to relocate some patients to the South Beach Clinic and having other patients wait for more than 24 hours .
At the time, Dr Sands said that the “perfect storm” was caused by years of “dumb and inappropriate decisions”. He was referring to political decisions. “Honestly,” he added, “I am not sure when a solution to the “mess” will be found.
Calls placed to officials at PMH and the Public Hospitals Authority were unreturned up to press time.