By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands has responded to a viral post on social media regarding the ordeal a mother had while delivering her baby in the public maternity ward of Princess Margaret Hospital late last month.
In a lengthy post that was originally shared in a popular local Facebook group, the mother said she had initially registered at PMH’s private surgical ward.
However, upon arriving at the hospital she claimed she was told she had to be admitted to the public ward, due to a missing form. The mother later alleged the confusion was due to an error made by the hospital’s business office.
In the public ward, the mother claimed she was subject to a number of humiliations, including rude and crass nurses, interns and doctors; sent to use a bathroom stall with someone else’s blood on the wall; denied pain medication; and had her labour augmented against her will.
The mother also alleged she was left waiting for approximately an hour after giving birth before she received stitches. The administration of the stitches was also a painful experience, she said.
When contacted by this newspaper, Dr Sands told The Tribune he reached out to the woman about her ordeal. The mother confirmed this interaction took place in a follow-up post on social media.
Dr Sands said he also reached out to staff at PMH regarding the matter.
“Any time any patient has an unpleasant experience at one of our institutions, it is cause for concern,” he said.
“That said, there has to be thorough investigation and evaluation of the facts and the determination of what opportunities there are to systemically improve the experiences and the quality of care that we deliver,” he said.
“And so, I would have reached out to her. I would have had communication with the head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the medical chief of staff, the hospital administrator, the managing director, the board, etc.”
Dr Sands admitted her complaint “is clearly not the only complaint we that we have fielded in recent days.”
However, he added the goal is to move the healthcare system to a more “customer-sensitive place” where patients report an “excellent experience.”
“We’re not there yet. But we have to try and get there,” he told The Tribune.
When asked if these complaints were specific to the maternity public ward, Dr Sands said they’ve been in reference to a “number of areas.” However, he also defended the integrity of the public hospital.
“We’ve also had messages of congratulations. By no means should the public believe that the only thing we ever hear are complaints.
“We get messages of surprise, messages of excitement, messages of gratitude about the experiences that they would have in the hospital or individuals that they may have encountered.”
When asked how he would respond to those who feel as though they are “gambling” on the kind of experience they will have at PMH, Dr Sands reiterated it is the “premiere medical institution in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.”
“(PMH) provides the lion’s share of medical care that is delivered, certainly for in-patient services. And given its 60, almost 70 years of existence, I think it has contributed mightily to patient care over time.”
“So, by no means are people gambling when they go into the hospital. The question however is whether the gap between either expectations and outcomes or the perception of service, ambiance, environment, supplies, equipment, personnel etc.
“So, it’s a need to do better. And we recognise that need and we’re trying to do better. It’s a continuous quality improvement effort that we take very, very seriously.
“Even though we have significant challenges, but we’re not deterred by the challenges, we want to make the best facilities that we can. And I’ve worked to Princess Margaret Hospital for 23-plus years. I know about the incredible things that happen there.”
The Tribune contacted the mother who wrote the social media post referenced, however she declined to be interviewed.