Very Long Waits The Norm At PNG Hospital Emergency Room

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Patients reportedly die before receiving care at Port Moresby General

By Maureen Gerawa And Alfred Kaniniba

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 20, 2014) – Patients are waiting for hours – even days – to be seen by a doctor or a nurse at the accident and emergency department of the Port Moresby General Hospital.

It has become a norm. Last week, a staff from the Post-Courier joined the queue and had to wait for 15 hours before he was seen by a doctor.

Attempts by the newspaper to get comments from the hospital chief executive officer Grant Muddle were unsuccessful.

The Post-Courier staff reported that one of the patients died while waiting. Another patient complained that he had waited for one week to see a doctor after being referred by the Nine-Mile clinic.

"An old man Bome (one name) from Lufa, in Eastern Highlands had come at 7.30am hoping to beat the crowd, but was left waiting as the clerks misplace his book and x-ray – a daily occurrence. This photo was taken at 3.42pm on Monday, when the clerks eventually served him," the Post-Courier staff said.

"He had checked three times during the day. When I thought about my predicament, it paled into insignificance considering Bome’s plight."

The old man, who uses a walking stick, did not ask for sympathy but showed his resilience to get served like any other. He had fallen while doing maintenance work at a church in East Boroko and he was still getting medical attention for it. East Boroko resident Rose Yombo, 32 of Ialibu, Southern Highlands Province, said she had waited for four days to see a doctor for her teen daughter who was suffering of heart pains.

She was concerned that there did not seem to be enough doctors at the department. Another patient who was referred from the Nine-Mile clinic had waited since Monday, October 6, and on Monday, October 13 had still not seen a doctor. The patient from Chimbu Province and was referred because he had high blood pressure.

Many other patients spoken to were clearly distraught at the chaos in delivery of medical service to patients, saying that there was no clear pathway way to help in efficient flow of service to patients which was a serious issue.

On Monday October 13, at 8am Dr Koreinformed an overcrowded accident and emergency section that she would be the only doctor that day and would be dealing with the "very sick" and those who were not so sick would have to wait until a doctor came along. She also clearly informed patients that "this is not an outpatient and therefore the very sick would be given priority."

True to her words, Dr Kore worked tirelessly, skipping lunch, and at 4.30pm was still there. If there was a worker who gave exemplary service without fear and favour, Dr Kore would fill that category.

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