For over a protracted period, the latest period commencing in late 2019, Dr Anand Chatoorgoon, retired employee, of now several years standing, from the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) has written a series of articles that has an effect to attempt to misinform the readership on the governance of healthcare operations and the professional work ethic of hard-working personnel at the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA).
In several instances, these articles are based on his unauthorised receipt and misinterpretation of information received. In this regard, the SWRHA continues to investigate and take the necessary remedial actions to address clearly, the misguided actions of a few people, for motives best known to them, to share same in an unauthorised manner with Dr Chatoorgoon.
Therefore the SWRHA again takes this opportunity to not only clarify, but in the case of this last article, clearly refute the misinformation penned by the doctor and published in the T&T Guardian newspaper on May 11.
With regard to his comment, which suggest lack of access to care in our hospital outpatient clinics, as well as failure to notice same in the data he references, Dr Chatoorgoon is reminded together with the readership, that the national regulations prescribed under the Public Health Ordinance required all facilities to limit the number of persons that can congregate in any public space. In the case of our outpatient clinics, this translated before the advent of COVID-19 to several hundred persons per day, in multiple concurrent clinics, involving large numbers of our essential healthcare workers, as well in providing care to our valued clients.
Therefore, notwithstanding the requirement to comply with national public health regulations, and protect the safety of patients, visitors and staff, patients attending SWRHA clinics continue successfully to receive medical care. Accordingly, a new system of assessment of clients was introduced prior to confirming clients’ appointments.
Stable, well-maintained patients are given repeat prescriptions and new clinic appointments. The SWRHA has communicated and also advertised in newspaper inserts in the southern bureau, that relatives who are not immune-compromised, can come on the patient’s behalf with the patient’s clinic card and identification, to also pick up their medication.
The official internal data management systems reviewed periodically by the relevant clinical executives, confirm the effectiveness of the system.
It is to be noted the antenatal clinic is one of the notable exceptions, whereby all patients are allowed to attend clinic under the physical distancing guidelines and therefore the data would reflect no prior review of records or call by medical records department.
The SWRHA also notes from the data, that despite patients being informed that their medication was available for pick-up, there was some delay to come to the hospital for same in a few clinics.
In addition to this process, in March 2020, when the Ministry of Health, at the regular media briefing announced changes to hospital operations, which included the installation of a parallel healthcare system, the SWRHA CEO led, strategic planning oversight team, anticipated service changes and immediately increased resources and personnel at our customer service centre 87-SWRHA (877-9742).
Here, as advertised, patients were able to call to obtain guidance on any aspects affecting their outpatient clinic appointments. Feedback from this source also revealed thus far, no high volume or cluster of complaints, related to this method of continuing to serve clients in the hospital outpatient clinics.
Regarding elective, non-life threatening surgeries, it is unfortunate the view expressed that the surgeons and anaesthetists are idle, and not working, when in fact they continue during this time to perform emergency and urgent operations, that were still permitted to save lives of patients during this trying time for the health sector.
Further, the Ministry of Health has also recently announced that elective surgeries that were indicated to be nationally suspended at all Regional Health Authorities, are due to resume this week.
We therefore utilise this forum to urge all commentators, especially Dr Chatoorgoon, for the interest of all the people of T&T to be responsible citizens and to liaise with authorised officials of the SWRHA regarding any information received, particularly if it appears confidential in nature, and to seek clarification once SWRHA is in a position to, without compromising confidentiality of patients and confidential business operations. This is in order to provide up to date, accurate and credible information in their public discourse.
The SWRHA is also confident that in future, the retired employee will do the right and honourable procedure and not analyse unauthorised, and possible unofficial or draft information coming into his possession, without first understanding the management and leadership dynamics by which the SWRHA now operates, since his years of retirement from the service, that may not all reflect in the data, he is in unauthorised possession of.
While the SWRHA continues to prioritise the services delivered to our valued patients, with care, compassion and competence, we also understand the need for transparency, accountability and where demanded, public scrutiny to continually improve our service.
Therefore we continue to invite our patients and clients to contact our customer service centre at 87-SWRHA (877-9742), as a primary point of redress, for any matter in relation to the service that we provide.
The SWRHA, being given the opportunity to state the facts as they are, now leave it to the reader as to who now is required to apologise to the country in this regard.
Corporate Communication Department