Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 13th 2014 Contents A5
Monday, January 13, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
As the overcrowding continues unabated
at the San Fernando General Hospital, Med-
ical Director Dr Anand Chatoorgoon has
given errant consultants an ultimatum to
"shape up or ship out."
Charging that some doctors are not giving
value for the money they are earning, Cha-
toorgoon said he would meet with all clinical
heads this morning to read the Riot Act to
"I intend to tell the doctors, who will soon
be getting an increase in salary that we love
them and want them to work with us, but if
they do not wish to work properly, in the way
we want them to work and do not care about
the organisation which employs them, then
they have an option," he said.
"I have already told my CEO (Anil Gosine
CEO of the South West Regional Health
Authority) that this year, doctors have to shape
up or ship out...Those who do not wish to
work with us and serve the poor people, then
leave us and go.
"This hospital belongs to the poor people,
we are here to help them, and if you (doctors)
don t care about the poor people, leave us and
go. I am reading the Riot Act to them, whether
they like it or not, because I am distressed
about the level of care patients are getting
from some doctors."
The situation is not new, but the proverbial
feather which broke the camel s back arose
last Thursday night, when attempts by Cha-
toorgoon to reach an on-call consultant to
deal with an alarming overcrowding situation
This caused Chatoorgoon to write a stinging
letter to the consultant in question, in which
he questioned the compassion for the ailing
public seeking his service, as well as unjustified
overtime on-call claims.
In a copy of a letter, made available to the
Guardian, Chatoorgoon described the over-
crowding at the hospital as "a crisis."
In the letter, reference is made to a situation
last Thursday night, when close to 50 patients
were kept in wheelchairs and gurneys under
tents, because of the unavailability of bed
space in the hospital, while the senior doctor
was celebrating, at a restaurant, the earlier
opening of the San Fernando Teaching Hos-
pital. The situation proved too much for the
junior doctors and an inexperienced registrar
on duty to handle.
According to the letter, Chatoorgoon made
several attempts to contact the consultant to
come to the hospital and assess the patients,
in an effort to determine who needed to be
warded and who could have been administered
medication and sent home.
Chatoorgoon advised the consultant of his
tardiness and suggested that he consider alter-
native employment if he no longer felt com-
passion for the patients he had taken an oath
to care for.
Contacted by telephone, Chatoorgoon con-
firmed the situation.
"The overcrowding situation at the hospital
is pretty bad and until Chancery Lane (the
hospital extension which Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar handed over last Thursday)
is opened, we have to be discriminating in
who we admit because we do not have endless
number of beds," he said.
"But some doctors are playing the fool and,
at this point in time, I am prepared to speak
out because we are not being given value for
money. I was in tears when I saw all those
people suffering and was unable to reach the
consultant to have him come and do an assess-
He said he was not satisfied with the level
of supervision given to junior doctors when
the consultants are not around.
"Juniors, too frequently, are left on their
own without supervision and that, therefore,
translates into patients not getting the best
possible care," Chatoorgoon said.
"I have made ward rounds with Director of
Health Dr Shevenand Gopeesingh, during the
day and there are very few consultants during
On evenings and at night, he said, the same
"So why are we paying them an on-call
He said he is also having problems with
consultant radiologists who are lagging behind
in their CT and MRI reports.
216 more beds added
Over the weekend, patients continued to
be treated under the tent pitched outside the
Accident and Emergency Department.
The hospital, originally called the Colonial
Hospital, which was built in the 1950s, at
present caters for at least half of the 1.3 million
population of T&T, way above the figure it
was first intended to serve.
At the opening of the Teaching Hospital,
which will add 216 more beds, bringing the
number of available beds to 866, Housing
Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal said overcrowding
at the SFGH would be a thing of the past.
Also at that opening, last Thursday, SWRHA
chairman Dr Lackram Bodoe, who received
the building and echoed Moonilal s sentiments,
stressed the need for improved bedside manner
of his staff.
Speaking about the treatment of patients
in the tents, he said, the teaching hospital
could not have come sooner.
"I encourage staff to cherish this facility
and to use this as an opportunity for trans-
forming the culture in which patient-staff
interactions occur," he said.
"We must endeavour to treat our patients
even nicer, in this very nice facility."
Crisis at San Fernando hospital...
reads Riot Act
Patients are kept in wheelchairs, armchairs and gurneys
under tents, because of the unavailability of bed space
in the San Fernando General Hospital, last Friday.
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