A disturbing image currently being circulating on social media of a patient lying on the floor of the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), as a result of major overcrowding at the hospital, has drawn the ire of several Jamaicans.
In an interview with The Gleaner yesterday, Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton said the matter was resolved and the patient placed in a bed, even before the photograph made it on to the Internet.
Tufton said the situation stemmed from the fact that the patient was in a chair and while waiting to access a bed, he was falling over, so he was placed on the ground while the bed was being prepared. But not before someone took the picture and uploaded it on social media.
"The situation is totally unacceptable, and I am prepared to say that as a society, we should never put people on the ground. However, my understanding was that it was a very temporary situation while they were sorting out an already overcrowded hospital. )," said Tufton.
"I'm told that the hospital is now nearly a 100 beds short, and they have had to put in makeshift beds to accommodate the excess demand. The same applies to Bustamante Hospital for Children."
The minister said overcrowding at health facilities is normally the case this time of the year, which goes well into January, but plans are in place to deal with it.
"We are working to put some contingency plans in place to transfer patients, where the need arises, to other hospitals such as St. Joseph's Hospital, National Chest Hospital and the University Hospital of the West Indies. Those are the ones that would have some extra beds. We are also prepared to use private ambulances to move patients," said Tufton.
The minister further noted that while it was social media that brought the situation to his attention, he is reminding persons that it is against the rules to take photos in hospitals without the permission of the patient.
"As one who uses social media, I'm not prepared to say it's all negative, but one has to also be cautious, particularly when you are dealing with confidentiality issues, when you are dealing with patients and hospital settings, because you put the patient at risk when you expose possible conditions that they would prefer to keep to themselves," said Tufton.