The facilities at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital must not be used to provide long-term care for those persons who are under the age of 65 and are in need of 24-hour residential care.

Minister of Health made this clear last Friday, following the official reopening ceremony for the refurbished female ward at the St. Lucy District Hospital at Hope Road.

The Minister noted that such persons were ???falling through the cracks??? and referred to a case where one patient was hospitalised since November 2003.????

???The QEH should not be providing residential care on a long-term basis like that.?? But they [patients] fall through the cracks because one can argue that they are too young to go into geriatric facilities, the families are unable to provide for them in a home environment and they would not survive very long if we attempt to ??? I think that would be very cruel and inhumane to the relatives and the patients to put them back in unsafe home environments,??? Mr. Inniss remarked.

Acknowledging that Government had an obligation to assist in this regard, he alluded to discussions with the Ministry of Social Care to explore avenues to expand residential care to facilitate such persons.

???This would involve some construction and remedial work but the reality of the situation is, that the physical facilities in the public health system, have by and large, been in a state of disrepair for many years.?? I do not think that Governments have placed enough resources into maintaining these plants well.?? So, despite the economic challenges we have been having around the world, we still have to find the resources to upgrade some of these facilities and it???s a situation that is very pressurised,??? Mr. Inniss maintained.

Also on hand for the event was the Royal Barbados Police Force Band who played a selection of traditional and popular Christmas carols much to the delight of the the staff, patients and their families and other specially invited guests.

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