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Elderly man waits more than two days for hospital bed

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Beds in the emergency room of the acute care wing of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (File photograph)

A 76-year-old man had to wait more than two days for a bed after being admitted to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s emergency department, The Royal Gazette can reveal.

The man spent 53 hours before being allocated a bed in the main hospital, his wife said.

The man’s wife, who does not want to be named to protect the couple’s privacy, expressed the trauma of their experience.

She told The Royal Gazette: “He had a fever and he had a chest cough that was just dreadful.

“I called his GP. The GP said, ‘I can’t do much, call the ambulance’.

“The ambulance came — they couldn’t have been nicer — they got him down to emergency by 1pm on the Friday.

“He was put in a room — there wasn’t much attention.

“And I had to ask somebody to come and change his diaper. I was just stunned that they hadn’t done it.

“There was one day when they put his breakfast down and did not feed it to him — and he was incapable of feeding himself.

“He’s never really been in any pain, so pain wasn’t an issue. It was really about dignity and care, proper care.

“He has been bed-bound for five years, he never had a bed sore — now he’s got a whopper of one.

“He was moved to a bed outside the emergency department at 6pm on the Sunday.”

Asked about how her husband felt about the situation, his wife said: “My husband can’t talk, but he’s Bermudian — male — so he can still communicate.

“He cannot talk, he cannot walk, he cannot feed himself, but he’s pretty good at getting his point across.”

The man’s wife added: “This hospital is for all of us, every Bermudian, and we have known for a long time that the service has been going downhill.

“We need to fix this — it’s for everybody, really.”

The incident comes after The Royal Gazette revealed that on one day last month people admitted to the emergency department had to wait 27 hours on average for a bed.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said she could not comment on an individual case, but stated that “bed blocking” was a major issue at the hospital.

Ms Wilson told The Royal Gazette: “It’s bed blocking.

“Unfortunately, we have a challenge with people who won’t take their loved ones home when they are ready to be discharged.

“The hospital has said this — that when people are in the emergency, there’s an over subscription. They always put on more doctors and more nurses to treat those persons while they are in emergency.

“So, unfortunately, the two days, they are not waiting for service, they are waiting for a bed.

“But if a person can discharge at 11am, it still takes three, or four, hours to clean the bed, to clean the room. That creates a backlog which means that the beds are not available.

“It’s unfortunate. If you know your loved one is going to be discharged, then take them home when they are ready.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“Nobody wants to be sitting there waiting for a bed, but there is bed blocking.

“People need to understand this. I know there are issues that may impact the family, or their ability to pick them up. I get that. I understand that.

“Basically, it’s a ripple effect. It’s bed blocking.”

Michael Dunkley, the One Bermuda Alliance Shadow Minister of Health, said the Government must act and “fix” the bed waiting delays.

He told The Royal Gazette; “I was informed of this and had to call the hospital to check what was happening. A 76-year-old man being left waiting for more than two days for a bed. I was aghast.

“We have known about these delays for so long now — they have had more than enough time to sort this out.

“This is just unacceptable. People are sick of the excuses. Fix it.”

The Bermuda Hospitals Board urged the family to make a formal complaint.

A spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette: “BHB continues to work hard to ensure a safe and efficient discharge for people in inpatient beds so that there are beds available for the people who come through emergency.

“We apologise when individuals have to wait for long periods of time.

“We strongly urge the family to make an official complaint.

“We take the concerns raised about the feeding of a vulnerable patient and pressure injuries very seriously.

“Our wards and our emergency department are staffed to expected levels for each shift, and the flow from ED to an inpatient ward is usually impacted by bed availability.

“Even when we have vacancies, shift numbers in the clinical areas are met through bringing in additional resources, or overtime.”

The BHB warned in March that it will struggle to maintain its facilities or to pay a basic cost-of-living increase to its staff because government funding is not keeping up with medical inflation.

The BHB, which is $16 million short of the funds promised to it by the Government in 2019, said that even if the Government made good the shortfall, failures to increase the spending cap meant that it had received a single 1 per cent increase in five years.

It emerged this year that the BHB had been shortchanged by up to $31.6 million in funding over the past four years.

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Published May 09, 2023 at 3:58 pm (Updated May 09, 2023 at 4:39 pm)

Elderly man waits more than two days for hospital bed

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