Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 5th 2017 Contents A14 news
guardian.co.tt Sunday, March 5, 2017
A nurse walks out of the recep-
tion cubicle and blurts out, "Ah
go check yuh back!"
It's midday and there is a calmness
at the Chaguanas District Health Fa-
cility. It's Fantastic Friday after all.
It's the ground floor and people in
the waiting area have to register their
information with the nurse. There
are 11 chairs and signs everywhere.
One says: "X-Rays Done To The
Apparently, if you need to get your
wound dressed you can do so only
on Monday, Wednesday and Friday
between 8 am to 10 am. And then
there's a notice that warns the pub-
lic that shouting, obscene language,
threats to staff and verbal abuse will
not be tolerated.
An elderly woman sitting next to
me moans gently. She said she was
there for about 30 minutes. A young
female in her 20s is busy on her
phone and a couple sitting in front
of me huddled together waiting to
I've never sought medical atten-
tion at a public institution in most of
my adult years so it was a somewhat
new experience. To upset the start
of the experience was the parking.
There are spots for about eight
cars outside of the building on Galt
Street itself, with cars also parked
on the roadside, avoiding the two
"No Parking" signs latched on to
the gates of the houses. The car park
across the street on the main road
is only for staff, the estate police
The space on the ground flour
feels crammed and congested. There
is a narrow corridor and I count sev-
en doors with signs on each. I begin
to wonder what a busy day would be
like. I spot patients waiting lower
The facility is three-storey build-
ing that was officially opened sev-
en years ago in January, 2010. Ac-
cording to the directory sign on the
building, on the ground floor offers
general practice, dressing, X-rays
and accident and emergency. The
first floor offers a pharmacy, vol-
untary counselling and HIV testing,
family planning and dentistry. The
second floor has a staff lounge, di-
abetic centre, laboratory services,
conference room, quality/OSHA and
In his opening remarks then, the
former health minister Jerry Narace
told the media the facility will serve
a catchment area of approximately
135,000 residents in communities
extending from Carlsen Field in the
south to Felicity in the west, Char-
lieville in the north and St Helena
in the east.
Where is the professionalism?
Patients are moving in and out of
the closed doors. I had anticipated
a large crowd and people creating
a scene but much to my surprise,
things were smooth and easy-going.
Two female cleaners are speak-
ing loudly with nursing staff along
the corridor in the full glare of the
public. A mop and a yellow bucket
sit idly in the room.
There are seven doors along a
corridor and another waiting area
A man walks in with his arm in
bandage. The nurses and cleaners
smile with him.
At this time, a male voice comes
over the PA system--- "(Name), come
After half hour, one nurse walks
in and greets the public, "Hello,
It seemed like a breath of fresh air.
It was difficult to engage the pub-
lic in conversation as uniformed es-
tate police kept a watchful eye.
However, as people exited, I got
a quick chance to ask them about
One woman said usually the wait
was about 45 minutes to an hour to
first see the nurse and relate your
problem, then another 15 to 20 min-
utes to see the doctor.
She said, "The procedure is that
you go to the first floor if you want
to see a GP. You register your infor-
mation, then a nurse calls you, then
you wait and then they'll call your
name over the PA system to see the
"The staff just do their job, really.
It is a job so there really is no com-
passion or small talk."
A man who had a bad cough said
it was a quiet day but some days are
He said, "The flow all depends
on the number of patients and how
many doctors working."
A 19-year-old student from
Chaguanas said when she visited
September last year, she waited for
close to 45 minutes to see a doctor
to get a referral.
"It is usually a hit and miss at
health centres or any government
agency. Some days the service and
staff can be top notch and other
times it can be an all-time low."
Two weeks ago, a woman said she
went in seeking medical attention
for a virus and back pain.
"I always go to see the GP. I have
never been to the Accident and
Emergency Department down-
She praised one doctor in par-
ticular whom she said does a full
medical examination even though
you complain of a pain.
The woman said, "Most people
try to see her. If you tell her your
back is hurting, she does a general
check-up. Others just treat you for
whatever you complain about and
give a prescription."
On the flipside, a few others com-
plained about the parking facilities.
A man and his wife said, "We had
to park several streets down from
here. This is a busy area so you can-
not park on the road side."
He added that the Government
should make attempts to own its
own building instead of leasing the
Members of the public await medical attention at the Chaguanas District Health Facility on Fantastic Friday. PHOTOS: RHONDA RAMBALLY
The directory on the wall of the Chaguanas District Health Facility.
A patient sits on a chair while speaking with a staff member behind a glass
on an easy day
Links Archive March 4th 2017 March 6th 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page