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Mt Hope patients for Caura beds

By Newsday Reporter Thursday, July 8 2010

click on pic to zoom in
Therese Baptiste-Cornelis...
Therese Baptiste-Cornelis...

Health Minister Therese Baptiste-Cornelis yesterday said unused beds at the Caura Hospital will be used to accommodate the “overflow” of patients at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) in Mt Hope.

Baptiste-Cornelis got a first hand look at conditions at the Caura Hospital yesterday during a surprise visit and saw unused beds, unacceptable conditions at the kitchen and the need for refurbishment of certain areas. Her visit came following a request from Tunapuna MP and Finance Minister Winston Dookeran who accompanied her during the tour. She told the media Dookeran asked her to visit after he was alerted of conditions by retirees who worked at the facility.

Last year, additional beds were purchased and housed at Caura for patients who had to isolated in response to last year’s H1N1 scare. Baptiste-Cornelis said the beds were “on hold” but will now be used. There were 48 beds ready and 40 others which required mattresses. Baptiste-Cornelis said the available space will be utilised since there was “some problems” with bed capacity at the EWMSC. There have been reports in the past of persons having to wait between 24 to 36 hours for a bed to become available. Baptiste-Cornelis said the staff was available for patients.

Responding to concerns about persons who may not want to be housed at the facility because it is used for the treatment of patients with tuberculosis, Baptiste-Cornelis said the area where patients will be housed will be on the south side, while the north side was used for patients with infectious diseases.

North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) CEO Ronald Tsoi-a-Fatt said the patients sent to Caura will be those who are convalescing. “Apart from that we are looking at other services such as palliative oncology care and so on so that some patients currently housed at Eric Williams can be effectively seen,” he said.

Public Services Association president Watson Duke spoke of the unacceptable conditions for staff during a meeting with the minister more than a week ago.

“We saw some of those things. Yes there is need for refurbishment and such will be expedited to ensure the staff have adequate facilities and refurbishment plans are going to be started like tomorrow for those areas,” Baptiste-Cornelis said.

She described the kitchen as unacceptable and said Tsoi-a-Fatt agreed with her.

“We saw problems with the chiller. Foods were being stored in not what I would consider the proper hygienic method. They are doing their best in the circumstances they have inside there. They showed me certain machinery not functioning. They do not have a sink. The guys actually have to stand up and wash pots on the ground.”

Tsoi-a-Fatt said the NCRHA was trying to develop its floor managers and the dietician was the person in charge of the kitchen and responsible for ensuring the standards are maintained and will be held accountable. The hospital manager has been instructed to continuously walk the floors to ensure the standards are upheld.

Hospital manager Sandra Fernandez said renovations were taking place in the kitchen and items have been procured and delivered. More supplies had to be delivered and work will begin. She said refurbishment of changing rooms for kitchen staff should be completed within two weeks time. Renovations have been completed for the changing rooms for wardsmaids while quotes were received for the hospital attendants quarters.

Most of the work was done in-house by engineering staff. Wards six, ten and the stores department were completed. Fernandez estimated that more than $100,000 had been spent on “minor refurbishment”.

Baptiste-Cornelis said a problem identified was the status of the facility in relation to the North West and North Central RHAs. Caura was under the jurisdiction of the NCRHA but patients were being sent from NWRHA. She said questions about who should stand the cost of refurbishment and other matters arose. A meeting will take place next week to “iron out those problems and allow a seamless transfer of patients”.

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