Waiting

Situation concerning: People gather yesterday at the entrance to the Sangre Grande Enhanced Health Centre where suspected patients were being tested for the Covid-19 virus. —Photo: Curtis Chase

Dozens of people rushed to public healthcare facilities across the East-West Corridor yesterday to get tested for Covid-19 as the virus continued its aggressive spread.

At the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) in Mt Hope, there were two tents full of Covid-positive patients and suspected patients.

Some positive patients were seen on stretchers while others were on wheelchairs and chairs under the outdoor tent.

Some patients were not wearing face masks, the Express observed.

Relatives of positive patients said they were told their family members must remain there until more beds become available at the hospitals.

Less than a foot away was another tent full of suspected Covid-positive people.

Several said physical distancing was not being observed.

A number of people also claimed there was co-mingling between suspected cases and positive Covid patients.

There were also complaints about a lack of oxygen for people who were having trouble breathing.

A 42-year-old dialysis patient said he visited Mt Hope on Monday to get tested and was yet to receive his results.

He receives dialysis treatment for kidney failure.

He said he has had to remain under the tent, sleeping next to positive patients and that he and others were only given breakfast at noon yesterday.

The man said, “The two people right next to me positive. They just waiting for them to take them up (to the hospital). Imagine that.”

The patient’s wife said she feared for her husband’s life as he has not been able to receive dialysis since Friday, pending his Covid test result.

She said they were not told why the results were taking so long.

She said she also observed patients leaving the tent to go get water and return.

She argued that this could put visitors, healthcare workers and everyone else on the hospital’s compound at risk.

She added: “Things are getting worse here. A woman who is positive just went and use the same portable toilet that my husband and other people that don’t have Covid using. She also left the Covid tent and asked to see a doctor and people have their family members walking in and out the Covid tent.

“There are no beds, no oxygen, and the doctors aren’t wearing full (personal protective equipment) so yes, they are working very hard but their lives are also at risk.”

‘Full to capacity’

The Express also observed a police officer entering and exiting one of the tents without sanitising.

And patients were also leaving the tent to speak with relatives.

Other frustrated patients also took to social media to share comments and video of what they were experiencing at the hospital.

In one video, a woman who is waiting on Covid results and said she has been sleeping under a step at the hospital because she said she refuses to sleep in the same tent with positive patients, showed what she said was an elderly man who fell while attempting to walk to the toilet. She said the man was not given any assistance.

However, speaking with the Express via phone yesterday, chief executive of the North Central Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) Davlin Thomas said he was aware of complaints made on Tuesday and as such security had been increased at the facility.

Told by the Express about complaints from people at Mt Hope yesterday, Thomas said he would investigate the issues.

Earlier, at the Sangre Grande Enhanced Health Centre, dozens of people were waiting to be tested for the virus. Nurses at the health centre told the Express that the facility was “full to capacity”.

From 8 a.m. people were lined up to get tested but at 11 a.m., a staff member said the health centre could not accept any more people for testing until later yesterday afternoon when “things die down”.

Patients were also waiting for two to three hours before they got tested, several said.

A nurse said social distancing was difficult because of the large number of people at the facility.

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