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Poor service at our clinics

Published: Oct 30, 2013

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Dear Editor,

This letter should be directed to the people in authority at the hospital and clinics.  Regarding the previous letters of complaint I have sent to them, the replies I got back were, “We will look into the matter.”

Nothing is even mentioned about it again or done about it.  So I’m hoping with your help and that of the public we will get on these people’s cases and force them to do a better job.

Upon entering any one of the clinics, you will come face to face with a blacked-out glass with two little holes so that the people on the other side can see and hear you, but we the public cannot see or hear who is behind this glass.  This is the first upsetting thing upon entering these clinics; and at this point everything is downhill as far as convenience for the patient or visitor, who has no choice but to accept anything these people dish out.

There seems to be a culture in this atmosphere that is designed to make the public feel as uncomfortable and beholden as possible.  Everyone seems to have their own agenda of discomfort waiting for you and you need not complain because the response from the person in charge is the same as what you are complaining about.  I may be partly responsible for that black window because I remember some years ago, before they were black, I went to the window to check in and a lady was sitting in the back of the room having lunch while another lady was going through files in a big cabinet.  Neither one said anything to me.  After the lady in the back was done eating, she disappeared with her empty plate, came to the window, which by this time had 10 to 12 people behind me, when I asked why she didn’t come to serve me.  She said she was hungry.  She accused me of not wanting her to have lunch.

I told her I didn’t mind her having lunch but I thought she should go somewhere where people who are waiting to be served couldn’t see her as unlike her, the people on the other side of the counter are here because they are sick and they want to get well fast; not to wait for her to finish eating before they start to get well.

I came home after six hours of waiting to see a doctor and the next morning I called the hospital to complain about her actions.  They asked me to write a letter to the director, which I did and up to this day – that was four and a half years ago – I have not gotten a reply.  However, the next time I went to the government clinic, they had the black windows installed.  This time I couldn’t see who was eating, sleeping or goofing off.  Even when a person is rude to you, you can’t see the person to describe him or her to the authorities.  When I ask for their names, they give me the name of somebody who doesn’t even work there.  When I ask the authorities verbally why the black windows are there, nobody gave me an intelligent reply.  If it was confidential, private, or subject to robbery, then the banks would have them up.  So with the exception of insulting the public, why are they there?

One of the policies of the clinics should be to have a host or hostess in the lobby to welcome, assist, and to assure the visitors that they are in good hands.  If this is done, by the time the patients get to the doctor, most of their complaints and illnesses will be gone, as 40 percent of the people who come through those doors are suffering from lack of attention, love and care.  But with the system you have now, I will guarantee that most feel more stressed than when they came in.

There is too much standing time for old people; and sitting on hard benches and chairs brings on discomfort and discomfort brings on disease.  Even the foreign doctors we bring in lose their enthusiasm after seeing how poorly we treat our own people.  They end up treating us as shabbily as our own doctors do so as not to belittle the Bahamian staff.

We should not let pride be our downfall.  People’s lives are at stake here.  Our people deserve better.  The Gussie Mae budget that the hospital gets per year can operate two Jackson Memorials.  For proof of our bad service, ask our politicians why they do not use our hospital for themselves or their families.  Why do they go to the great United States if they cut their fingers?  Maybe they just don’t want to mix with poor people who have to live or die with the service.  I really don’t know if the service is good or bad to tell you the truth, but if the people who are producing it don’t use it, I have to believe it is unreliable.

In closing, I want to mention my six hours, which is normal waiting time in the clinics and hospital to see a doctor or have a prescription filled.  I think if you have a junior doctor writing prescriptions only, all day, you will reduce the waiting time.  For even better results, you may think seriously about leaving those clinics open 24/7.

We build the clinics, we pay staff a good salary, good benefits, good perks.  Now for God’s sake, give us something for your good living.  Don’t leave us the way you met us.  Better our condition.  Keep those clinics open.

– Thompson

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