THIS is in response to “Concerned parent”, whose letter on March 17 claimed that doctors and health workers at the Port Moresby General Hospital, particularly the Emergency Department (ED), were slow and slack.
The letter is a wake-up call to some doctors and nurses and this is a slap in the face of some of us who have put in enormous time, energy and commitment into that place.
We have slowly transformed the smelliest, dirtiest, overcrowded and “polluted” place into a comfortable working environment and more refurbishment are imminent.
The writer expects treatment in his/her favour, while other patients seem to be happy.
If you went there some 12 months ago, you would not have waited for three hours.
The population of Port Moresby has increased tremendously over the last several years.
The small ED, which was built many years ago and with limited staffing and consumables, is not capable of addressing everyone satisfactorily.
At the ED, patients are seen and treated according to the severity of illness or injuries and not in accordance with when you walk in.
This is called triage and is the standard practice worldwide in EDs.
If you are initially assessed to be less ill/injured, you will be told to wait, and that “wait” is dependent on how many more seriously ill or injured are brought in.
Sometimes, you could even wait the entire shift.
The writer claimed that he/she saw many doctors doing nothing.
Usually there would be one or two registrars (senior doctors) working with one or two residents (trainee doctors) per shift.
The medical students often come to assist.
To the laymen, it would look like there “many doctors” around.
They all work under only one emergency specialist who provides guidance and cover 24/7/365 (24 hours a day whole year round).
These doctors are well trained to handle emergencies – it’s just that there are too many sick patients at any one time, hence the difficulty to give optimum care to individuals as we would want to.
If the Government does not care for you well, then you need to look after yourself.
Practice primary health care or preventative medicine by doing simple things like washing your hands, be clean, do not eat “rubbish” food sold on the streets, stop chewing buai and smoking, cut down on alcohol, stop fighting, no drink-driving, and so forth.
You can prevent yourself ending up in ED by observing these measures.
Dr Sam Yockopua
Emergency physician and coordinator of ED, POMGH