Sands pledge: We'll fix troubles at clinic

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.


Tribune Staff Reporter


HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands was adamant yesterday that all was being done to correct issues at the Blue Hill Road Clinic, after it was claimed the facility was being run on "limited resources."

Sources at the health facility contacted The Tribune yesterday to highlight several problems there.

The main issue was said to be an extensive patient backlog, which resulted in scores of patients cramming into the small structure.

"The nurses can't move; the doctors can't move to take care of the patients," one source said. "Only one way in the clinic, if a fight breaks out, come on!"

The Tribune understands that hours into service yesterday, an official at the clinic made a decision to limit the registration of patients at the facility.

That move ultimately led to a panic and ended with dozens of unregistered persons doing all they could to ensure that they were in the group registered for service.

When contacted on the matter, Dr Sands insisted that he was aware and doing all he could to address the problem. He suggested the dilemma at the Blue Hill Road Clinic on Thursday was nothing new, but rather in line with daily trends at the property in the wake of renovations at the Coconut Grove facility.

"There are constraints and really, we are doing all we can to stem the tide. That's the reality," he told The Tribune.

"There was a delay in registration, once that happened there was a backlog because of the amount of people serviced at that facility on a daily basis," Dr Sands added.

He said patients regularly seen at the Coconut Grove Clinic for checkups and treatments were redirected to the Blue Hill Road Clinic.

"A clerk decided not to register some of the patients, a back-up started; and what happened was very serious consequences," Dr Sands said.

"But we had to push through because that is the position we are in. I wish that Coconut Grove was back on stream and ready to handle the load it once did, but it isn't. It's under renovation and repairs are still being carried out there."

Dr Sands added: "It's just another challenge. Trust me, we've seen our share this term. But, we have a $24m capital budget; we have to appreciate that and understand that there is no more.

"That budget is for the Public Hospitals Authority and (Department of) Public Health - half each.

"So when you look at what is happening, look at it from the perspective that we have $12m to carry out capital projects across public health. That's here in New Providence, at the Rand Memorial with the kitchen (repair), Elizabeth Estates, South Beach Clinic and Coconut Grove; it a lot to be done.

"There is no infinite bank account that we have to run to and say, 'hey, I need an ambulance, I need a new clinic, I need a new ward.'"

Dr Sands continued: "In the constraints of reality, we have $12m and we have to do all we can to get the most out of that. So that means prioritising projects that will give Bahamians the biggest return."

In June, the Minnis administration announced that it would delay the implementation of 500 fee increases at the Princess Margaret Hospital, which were planned to help increase revenue generation for the public hospital.

That decision was made despite previous indications by Dr Sands that the sector was cash-strapped and struggling in some areas.


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