Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday that overcrowding at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) as a result of traffic into the Accident and Emergency Department, coupled with a shortage of nurses, has led to the hospital cancelling all elective surgery until further notice.
“This was a decision made just yesterday,” he said.
“We had 106 people in the emergency room yesterday.”
Sands added: “The major issue at PMH right now includes the challenge of getting people into beds, the knockoff effect of the impact on surgery. Because if you have a hospital that is full, then you can’t bring in people for elective surgery,” he said.
“Right now we’re so stretched in the emergency room that there are ambulance trolleys being used for beds. It’s a very serious issue.”
Sands said the shortage of nurses at PMH, reported to be a deficiency of at least 100 people, is also posing a major challenge.
“Even as we try to move patients out of the emergency room, you are limited by the number of nurses that you have,” he said.
“You cannot put people on a ward unless you have nurses to take care of them. There’s only so much overtime that the nurses can work.”
Sands also said that nearly 40 boarders at PMH who have been abandoned by their families are taking up much-needed bed space.
He said the government is now considering moving them into nursing homes at the expense of taxpayers.
Sands said the monthly cost to do that could be as high as $78,000.
“We have 39 boarders in hospital right now, 39,” he said.
“Again, we’ve talked about this over and over and over where people bring their loved ones there and leave them. And, so, we now have to look at an option to put people into nursing homes and the question is whether this is something that’s going to be borne by the public purse.
“So, when you bring your mother to the hospital and leave her, or you bring your father to the hospital and leave him, then the public ends up having to pay for it. I recognize that we live in serious times and people have great challenges, but fundamentally we have to ask, ‘How do we care for our loved ones?’”
He added, “We’re forced to deal with it in a way that some may find unpalatable. When you look at the cost of a nursing home in The Bahamas, it could be as much as $1,800 a month. So, if you have 39 boarders and you multiply that by say $2,000, that’s an expense that may end up having to be borne by the public purse if the families are either unable or unwilling to take that on.”