THE seasonal surge in the number of pregnant women turning up at the Maternity Department of the San Fernando General Hospital to deliver babies has strained the ability of the understaffed unit to cope.
The hospital has hired 20 new midwives at the department, which comprises the antenatal, labour and postnatal wards.
Chairman of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) Dr Lackram Bodoe said during the months of August and September, there was a higher number of births.
Bodoe said the hospital usually dealt with 300 births per month but for those months, there have been over 400 deliveries.
He said, "We have had an increase in the number of Caesarean-sections both elective and emergency. Because of issues in scheduling these operations, there have been situations arising where some of the shifts have been overworked. And also on some days there is overcrowding with regard to beds for the post Caesarean-section patients."
Bodoe said yesterday that the shift worked by nurses and doctors was eight hours, and there were four teams of doctors, each led by a consultant, working in the Maternity Department.
He said there were sufficient doctors to handle the workload.
There are 70 beds in the maternity department including eight delivery beds.
A meeting was held yesterday morning with SWRHA chief executive officer Anil Gosine, head of the Maternity Department, doctors and midwives to discuss the issue.
Bodoe said yesterday evening that "everything was back to normal".
He said, "Proper arrangements are being put in place to make sure the workload is more evenly balanced. In addition to that, we expect to have 20 new midwives coming to the department on Monday to assist. There are also plans to have in-house training for staff at the hospital, a measure
that will have to be approved by the Ministry of Health and the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Midwives."
Bodoe said despite the lack of the staff over the past two days, "there was never any threat to mothers and their babies".
The patients at the department agreed with Bodoe.
Two patients who were waiting for beds for more than two hours said they did not mind the wait because they were still being cared for by the nurses.
Tianna Mohammed, 23 and soon to be mother of four said, "I am getting good treatment. I don't have anything to worry about."