The Ministry of Health is investigating the death of a man who was turned away from receiving dialysis treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital on Monday, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday.
“We are investigating the circumstances surrounding that death where a patient, who had presented to the Dialysis Unit and was not dialyzed, subsequently succumbed,” Sands said.
“The circumstances relative to his death are being investigated. We should know the details in short order.
“PMH, the Public Hospitals Authority and the Ministry of Heath have used this and other challenges of the Dialysis Unit to adjust the treatment options for patients.”
The Dialysis Unit was forced to turn patients away on Monday due to a staff shortage, The Nassau Guardian was told.
The patient, who was identified by his family as Neil Bethel, 25, a father of one, was among several patients scheduled to receive treatment at 4 p.m.
His sister, Stacey Cooper and mother, Gloria Bethel, appeared to be in a state of shock when The Nassau Guardian visited their Taylor Street home yesterday.
They were seated on their porch.
Cooper said her brother, an avid Junkanooer, had been a member of the Shell Saxons Superstars for years and was preparing to rush in the upcoming Boxing Day Junkanoo Parade.
She said he started dialysis treatment two months ago.
When asked about her brother’s death, Cooper said, “Apparently, he was supposed to go for dialysis treatments three times a week; that’s Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“Friday, he didn’t get served. So, he went back Monday for the appointment. They turned him and 19 others away.”
She said the nurse told him that the department was short-staffed.
“Later that night he was complaining about shortness of breath and we called the ambulance and took him to the hospital,” Cooper said.
“My mother was at the hospital all night with him.
“The hospital called me and said come deal with my mom.
“When I got there that’s when she told me that he passed away.
“The nurse told my mummy that he died from a heart attack. Then when I asked her what was the cause of death she said he just passed.”
She said the family, which usually attends Junkanoo every year, does not plan to go this year.
The Nassau Guardian has reported on the extensive issues plaguing the Dialysis Unit.
A July 2018 memorandum prepared by then Hospital Administrator Mary Walker revealed that the unit was in crisis because of a shortage of trained nurses, dialysis machines plagued with “operational failures”, a leaky ceiling, flooding and a malfunctioning air conditioning system.
At the time of the report, the unit was caring for 175 chronic patients who were receiving 2 hours and 30 minutes of treatment as opposed to the “optimal treatment period recognized as 3 hours and 30 minutes to four hours”.
It had 20 treatment stations and 22 dialysis machines.
About 400 patients were being outsourced to the private sector.