SHOCKED and flabbergasted.

That is how North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) chief executive officer Davlin Thomas felt whilst reading the Sunday Express lead story yesterday in which outpatients related their agony of having to wait long periods for health care at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope.

Most outpatients interviewed by the Express over the last few weeks expressed continued frustration over postponements of appointments.

Contacted by the Express yesterday for comment after having failed before publication of the story, Thomas admitted that due to Covid-19 protocols outpatients attending the clinics have to wait longer to be attended to but he assured the patients are eventually seen by the respective doctors.

A surprised Thomas said, from March last year to the present, over 6,000 surgeries were performed while other countries in the world stopped doing surgeries due to Covid-19.

“Three weeks ago, the NCRHA made a concerted effort to resume the clinics for outpatients who had surgeries, Covid or no Covid, as we understand how important follow-ups are and we thought this would have made patients happy, but we keep seeing negative articles popping up, especially on social media, which has left the staff dumbfounded,” he said.

When the Express visited Mt Hope, many outpatients from the Medical and Surgical clinics complained of a lack of caring service.

One patient lamented, “They keep saying it’s because of ‘Covid, Covid’, but it’s not. They are grossly mismanaged. They have a backlog. If you see people does be here waiting. And every time you come for your appointment, they put you off for another day. I was admitted to the clinic in July last year. I got rescheduled to September. When I went back in September, they put me off (to) January, and now today I got pushed back to April 2021.”

Another patient, Natasha Ballantyne, said it is frustrating. “Every time you come, they keep pushing back, pushing back (your appointment date). I understand it’s Covid time, but still,” she lamented.

The NCRHA CEO said it leaves him to wonder if this is political, as the doctors and staff all agreed to continue to perform surgeries during the pandemic.

“Yes there will be a backlog and the reason for this is two to three years ago we increased the surgery ceiling at Mt Hope to 2,000 more. NCRHA will investigate the claims but, we are working with constraints and the process is taking longer as expected during a pandemic,” Thomas conceded.

‘They can kill you!’

Reacting following publication of the story yesterday, Lystra Wallace reached out to the Express to highlight her unpleasant experience at the public hospital.

Wallace said she went to Mt Hope last Friday at 2 p.m., with complaints of cramps in her hand and chest pains. At 8 p.m., she said she still did not get other tests done or admitted inside Emergency.

“When I started feeling worse, sitting in a hospital and not getting service, I had no intention of staying there longer. They can kill you! I will make up the money and get proper medical attention later this month,” she wrote in an e-mail to the Express.

She said the staff had to remove the catheter that the screening doctor placed in her hand and that’s how she was lucky to see inside the Emergency room.

“That place was a mess — all the persons whom I came and met outside were sitting in waiting rooms inside there, beds were full and only a whole lot of young doctors like it’s a teaching hospital. I had not noticed one mature doctor — not one!” she said.

“Sitting in that place, not eating anything during the day and just observing was making me feel worse,” Wallace lamented.

Responding to the claims, the NCRHA CEO said he would launch an investigation into the matter.