The Ministry of Health and Wellness has instituted a number of measures aimed at beefing up security at the two polyclinics which will be opened to the public on a 24 hour basis from Saturday.
Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kenneth George, has assured the public and staff at the Winston Scott Polyclinic and the David Thompson Health and Social Services Complex that security guards will be posted at both facilities on a continuous rotation. Additionally, security cameras are in place and panic buttons have been installed.
There will also be secured areas within the polyclinics that will be accessible only by medical staff, and a system is already in place at the Winston Scott Polyclinic where security guards check visitors at the entry for weapons, using wands.
Dr. George further disclosed that clear guidelines on how to deal with disruptive patients had been devised to assist staff who may face this challenge.
Explaining the decision to extend the opening hours in the polyclinic system, the Chief Medical Officer said the purpose was two-fold – firstly, to make health care accessible to the population whenever they needed it, and secondly, to divert “urgencies and minor emergencies” from the over-burdened Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) into the polyclinic setting.
He made it clear that the QEH was for acute, life-threatening emergencies such as gunshot wounds, chest pain, abdominal pain, fractures and serious eye injuries.
In the polyclinic setting, he advised, persons could be treated for ailments such as asthma, coughs and colds, the gamut of non-communicable diseases and lacerations.
“What we don’t want to happen is for those simple cases to go to the Accident and Emergency Department at the QEH because this is responsible for the long waiting times patients often experience there.”
Dr. George revealed that all the medical staff who will be working in the new system had undergone an eight-week intensive training course, at the end of which they were certified to work in an emergency setting.
Their skills set is expected to be further enhanced through exchange relationships to be established with the QEH, he added.
The Chief Medical Officer said that the Ministry of Health and Wellness was committed to ensuring that quality medical care was the hallmark of the new service.
He cautioned however: “It will be a learning process and for the first few months there may be teething issues…we will learn from the experience, and where there are changes to be made, we will certainly put those in place.”