Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
There were some anxious moments at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) on Wednesday morning as some patients spoke openly, in the presence of Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson, about challenges they faced in accessing medical care. Ferguson was on a tour to assess conditions at the facility.
Ferguson had been walking throughout the KPH and the Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH) seeking information from hospital personnel, but it was at the clinic that the excitement unfolded.
Some patients who were obviously displeased with the system did not hesitate to make their voices heard. They lashed out.
"Unu nuh care 'bout people! Look how long wi a wait! The system want to fix!" shouted a patient.
She was hastily consoled by ministry personnel who took her contact details in an effort to provide some comfort, but it was not long before more drama unfolded.
"Mi deh ere from early wid mi grandmother an' all now wi can't go in. This is foolishness! Is time unu consider people's feelings," another patient said.
The tour of KPH and VJH followed one of Bellevue Hospital.
While addressing journalists at a press briefing following the tour, Ferguson addressed the long waiting time patients faced. He said strategies would be put in place to address the long-standing problem which continues to negatively affect patients at the facility.
"There are a number of people who complain, and we recognise the challenge. I have said to the CEO that I know the problems we now have. Some of those problems will be fixed over time, but I believe there are some things that we can do in terms of easing the present pressure," he explained.
The minister pointed out that older patients should be given priority and all windows dealing with patients should be fully functional.
"Our people have to continually be trained. They need the people skills up front to deal with these situations. I look forward to the day when I will visit again and we will be able to see that area in a better light," he added.
He commended the hospital team, pointing to the work that the dialysis unit was doing, including a successful kidney transplant that they had performed last year.
Ferguson said the dialysis unit was able to accommodate up to 80 patients, but this number should soon be increased, with some 18 pieces of equipment to be added soon.
However, he was far from being pleased with the records area.
"There are challenges relative to the number of records. They are properly packed, but we recognise by law that there is a 10-year period that you have to keep the patient records. It is not a simple thing when you are using a paper-based (system). During my tenure, we are going to be working assiduously to move to an electronic process," he said.