Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 23rd 2016 Contents CONTINUES FROM PAGE A12
Unlike other hospitals, that health insti-
tution has a ward designated for discharged
patients who were never collected or opted
to stay - eight people filled beds in a room
located on the ground floor. Four other beds
have been empty for months, perhaps waiting
for other long stay patients to fill those spots.
Their cases differed. One patient was ward-
ed since November 2014 for the chikungunya
virus. He told the Guardian that he was still
under observation and was waiting until he
felt better to leave the institution.
He spends most of his days travelling
around and making short trips outside of
the hospital but always returns by evening.
One senior nurse said the man s relatives
have disowned him since he had once lived
on the streets and has no place to go.
But the man says he has acres of property
in Grand Riviere near serene beaches which
he can go to at any time but has not been
Some of the patients are confined to beds,
at least two are stroke survivors.
Diabetes rendered one of the patients a
One bed was labeled "unknown"--- a young
man, traumatised and mute. Nurses say he
has scars that tell a tale of years of abuse,
he was dropped off at the hospital for treat-
ment years ago but staff does not know who
he is or where he came from.
None of these men require hospitalisation,
some only need care at a nursing home or
supervision at a relative s home.
One nurse, speaking on the assurance of
anonymity, seemed frustrated over the reality
that such a ward existed.
"I trained to be a nurse so that I could
take care of sick people; these are not sick
Nurses at both the Port-of-Spain and San
Fernando General Hospitals, two of the major
public hospitals in the country say they always receive
an influx of elderly patients around Christmas and
These patients are warded when tested positive for
high blood pressure and sugar levels, but when families
are called to collect them soon after calls go unanswered
or worse, incorrect numbers are usually given.
Some nurses conclude that families struggle to keep
patients over these two periods due to their own hectic
schedules, but it burdens hospital resources.
Corporate communications Manager at the ERHA
Trudy Blackman-Moore said more avenues to channel
long stay patients from the health facilities into more
homely environments will also reduce the patient s
risks of infection.
A senior nurse at the SFGH told the Guardian that
when long stay patients occupy and effectively block
beds it can also result in delaying surgeries.
Over 600 patients living
at St Ann's hospital---doctor
Meanwhile, at the St Ann s Psychiatric Hospital
scores enter, live and die at the institution.
Secretary of the Psychiatrics Association Dr Varma
Deyalsingh told the Guardian that the hospital can
hold up to 710 patients but 640 live there.
Referring to them as the "hidden people", he said
these mentally ill chronic patients are shunned by
society and needs constant supervision.
While it would be ideal to empty this and other
hospitals of long stay in-patients Deyalsingh is
adamant, there needs to be measures in place for
proper outpatient care of both mental and neglected
Although moving long stay patients could tremen-
dously cut governmental cost, as well as free up hos-
pital resources for acute cases, emptying the hospitals
to free up bed spaces could lead to the filling of
streets, exacerbating the perennial problem of the
homeless across the country.
Deyalsingh cited a 2010 US study where researchers
found the average cost to keep a mental patient insti-
tutionalised per day is TT$5,000.
He recognised that this figure would vary in a local
context due to the level of technology at the hospital
and may very well be a little more or less in com-
He said a Health Care Cost survey was conducted
by the Ministry of Health in 2010 to ascertain the
daily cost per bed, but the findings were never publicly
One senior ward manager with over 20 years serv-
ice told the Guardian that a range of $4,800 to $15,000
was determined for a bed per day at the general hos-
pitals in that survey.
Though that figure could not be confirmed through
any of the RHAs or the Ministry directly, the cost
being accumulated by patients who do not require
acute care offered by the hospitals is expensive.
The Ward Manager said that a long stay patient s
cost would register on the lower end of that range,
but even at $4,800 one such patient can cost
$144,000 per month and $1.7m per annum.
A staggering cost if that figure is accurate.
Doctors, nurses and executives within the different
RHAs are calling for better collaboration and net-
working with the external agencies such as the Min-
istry of Social Development and Family Services,
Ministry of Health, Ministry of National Security
and even geriatric homes.
The average cost to keep an elderly person at a
semi-contained to a self-contained room at nursing
homes across the country range from $3,500 to
$8,500, this fee does not include toiletries and doctor s
visits which are to be provided and paid for addi-
Programmes like the Geriatric Adolescent Part-
nership Programme (GAPP) which have been marred
by protests over caregivers who receive low stipends
could seriously ease the financial burdens felt by the
RHAs and Government as a whole, if more effort is
put into its vitalisation and growth.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
...Millions spent to keep 'discharged patients'
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