Grenada’s healthcare is a right not a privilege!

God forbids that this happens to you or your family but can you imagine having an emergency within five minutes driving distance away from the General Hospital and having to wait 45 minutes for the ambulance to arrive? … I’ll come back to that.

Recently I had the opportunity of experiencing the way of operation at our nation’s main medical facility, the General Hospital.

At first glance it seems that the nurses were very warm and cooperative, despite the countless frustration they undergo daily. Taking a closer look it appears that they are left to work with limited resources, outdated equipment and some people with bad attitude.

From time to time you do meet one of those nurses who would may be prefer to work at a beauty salon with the only customer being herself. But outside of that it is fairly ok. There are some persons within the Health ministry who try very hard to get things to happen, no doubt about it.

What is baffling is that in many cases a patient would be referred to an external Diagnostic Center where they will have to pay extra money in order for the hospital to proceed with their treatment. More often than not, a patient will need to have these tests done immediately or suffer the consequences, whatever they may be.

Maybe it’s time to invest in our own. Hopefully some day we would be made to understand why Grenada’s “state of the art hospital” is incapable of independently providing adequate healthcare for its tax paying citizens.

While on that subject you may have noticed that in the past few years new medical facilities have emerged in Grenada. It seems as though healthcare is big business in Grenada. Despite it all, these medical centers at least give us all an alternative.

Whenever you get a pain or fall ill you can now decide whether or not you are willing to subject yourself to a possible all-day and night trip to the General Hospital, or sacrifice a few hundred dollars for an almost immediate attendance. The options are extreme.

But what about the big E — EMERGENCY!

I am more than convinced that we are in a bad state of affairs when it comes to responding to emergencies. Just a few months ago a very sick patient was rushed from work to the hospital. He exhibited symptoms of stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, dehydration, elevated body temperate and weakness.

Three hours later the patient was still sitting in a Waiting Room carrying his cross. The patient eventually left, and opted to use the services of another medical facility, where he received immediate attendance; that option was expensive, but necessary, given his condition.

Now the big A – AMBULANCE!

No! Not tuke tuke, the real ambulance. The ones that have at least four wheels and can lock from the inside.

The most instinctive thing to do when an incident happens is to call the General Hospital and request ambulance services, like with every other country. But why on earth does it take so long for them to arrive? It is no exaggeration when I say that maybe every adult Grenadian can relate an “ambulance late again” story. So what is the problem and why is it taking so long to be fixed?

God forbids that this happens to you or your family but can you imagine having an emergency within five minutes driving distance from the General Hospital and having to wait 45 minutes for the ambulance to arrive?

About ten years ago, I witnessed a man being hit by a vehicle close to the Tropicana Restaurant in St. George’s. It took the ambulance more than an hour to arrive. The injured man stayed on the ground in pain before becoming unconscious. He later succumbed to his injuries and died.

NB: It may not be in the best interest of an accident victim to be moved or handled by persons with no medical background.

Ten years later nothing has changed! On Friday night, a bus ran into a utility pole, cutting it in half. The driver was violently thrown outside the bus on impact. The hospital was immediately notified. Fifteen (15) minutes later Grenlec was also notified. Grenlec arrived within fifteen minutes of the call, accessed the situation and left. Still no ambulanc e.

Several minutes later the ambulance showed-up – it took them over 45 MINUTES! The driving distance between the hospital and the accident is no more than 7 minutes, even if it’s Michael Church driving (smiles).

This fact worries me. It gives me chills. The injured man remained on the ground bloody, groaning in pain for 45 whole minutes. This could have been anybody. It could have been your mother, father, daughter or even you.

If the demands are too much for the General Hospital to handle then maybe it is time to take a serious look at improving the health facilities in each parish.

As a nation we must demand more from the system that we are often at the mercy of. Our well-being is not a privilege; it is a right that we and our ancestors have all fought for. Let’s hope that after 40 years of proclaiming that we are a “proud independent nation” that we have something to show for it other than scars.

I am by no stretch of the imagination an authority on the subject but for the sake of the weak, sick and vulnerable, let’s try to do better. We have come a long way but we have a long way to go.

We need healthcare that is accessible, acceptable, affordable and appropriate for our people.

Mikey Hutchinson

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