Dr Duane Sands, Minister of Health. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
ELECTIVE surgeries at Princess Margaret Hospital resumed yesterday following last week's bed shortage crisis, according to Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.
Health officials on Friday announced elective surgeries had to be suspended that day due to an unprecedented level of overcrowding at the public hospital.
PMH Administrator Mary Lightbourne-Walker said the hospital was grappling with an increased number of boarders compounded by shortages of beds and nurses, with staffing resources maxed out servicing virtual wards on an overtime basis.
She noted a 12-hour wait time in the Accident and Emergency Department that was exacerbated by the seasonal surge in the number of patients coming in with respiratory and other related illnesses.
Yesterday, Dr Sands said: "The situation in Accident and Emergency on a good day is hectic, there are a lot of patients being seen.
"It doesn't take a whole lot to push things beyond the point of breaking so if you happen to have more patients than usual and more difficulty in getting patients out of the hospital, back up with trolleys, then surgeries can't get done and the ripple effect becomes cumulative.
"We hit that point (on Friday)," he continued, "thankfully we're moving away with interventions put in place, but that doesn't mean it can't happen again when you are running a hospital at more than 100 per cent capacity."
On Friday, officials noted the A&E Department has seen an average of 100 people per shift for the past two weeks. He urged the public to consider going to community clinics for non-emergency care.
Mrs Lightbourn-Walker noted several projects currently underway to alleviate the overcrowding crisis; however, she said completion of those projects was still several months away.
"We won't see those marginal improvements for about four months," Mrs Lightbourne-Walker said.
"The ward projected to be completed at the end of April will only give 24 beds. If we can move some of these boarders out we have beds right away, the additional projects are at a stage where they are confirming architectural drawings and funding. So they're a bit further away, there are plans to increase our capacity.
"We're listed as a 402-bed facility, we're currently down 42 due to renovation projects. We are aggressively attempting to make those spaces available."
On Friday, the public was directed to first call A&E at 326-7014 if they are not sure about the emergent nature of their condition.
Clinic hours at the South Beach Health Centre, the Fleming Street Clinic, and the Flamingo Gardens Clinic have been extended from 8am to 9pm Monday through Friday and the Elizabeth Estates Clinic from 9am to 9pm Monday through Friday.