Glen's Sad End
This letter was penned by the family of Glen Glod, who, from his bed at the San Fernando General hospital in July, took notes detailing his treatment at the hands of hospital personnel. He planned to write to the newspaper about his experiences, when he was released. However, Glod, who suffered two strokes and had no neurosurgical care, died two weeks after being admitted to the very hospital he worked at. Glen, 57, of Pleasantville was the married father of two.
"It is not who you know, but rather, who knows you" when it comes to getting your needs met in our society today. Although this may be the case most of the times, it is certainly not the case all of the time. Glen Glod, an employee of the SWRHA who died at the San Fernando General Hospital, Glen was "known" as the Liaison Officer, a position that he held for the past five and a half years. But this relationship clearly did not work his favour, at his time of need.
Mr. Glod suffered two strokes on Saturday 7th July, 2012 and died on Friday 20th, July 2012 possibly because of the unavailability of a neurosurgeon. The first day that he spent at the hospital, the attending doctor told his daughter and son-in-law, that Glen needed the attention of a neurosurgeon, and that none was available.
Nevertheless, Mr. Glod’s family was assured that he would receive the "best treatment" because "he is a member of staff", "known" to them, in fact some of his colleagues referred to him as their friend. Glen’s family members however are not satisfied that he received the "best treatment" during the fourteen (14) days that he was treated at the hospital.
Glen’s stroke affected his ability to speak and he also had a tracheotomy implanted (in the neck) that further hindered his vocal expression, so Glen wrote with his left hand (although he was right-handed) on paper (which was later dated) attached to a clip-board (provided by his daughter) all of what he experienced, particularly at nights.
He described the nights as being the worst, in particular the neglect that occurred with the night-shift nurses, and ill-treatment by one night-nurse in particular (who unplugged the buzzer that he pressed to notify them that he needed attention). He had a fever for four continuous nights and this was nowhere recorded in his notes according to one attending doctor. Glen wrote a lot. It was his intention to write an article about his experiences, when this is over. However, instead of reporting some of the really heart-breaking details of his writings, we highlight those that we believe will convey the desired message.
Granted that Glen could not receive attention from a neurosurgeon, and his condition appeared to be terminal, the bereaved family felt that the least that could be done was to ensure his comfort . Since Glen was "known" in this environment, family members requested and were given the concession of visiting outside the normal visiting hours. This arrangement /protocol that was put in place, involved talking to a staff at the Administration office on the ground floor, who spoke to the stationed security officer at the ground floor, who will allow a family member up one level, at which point the hassle began. The other security officers at other stations were not aware of this concession and obviously restricted access which required constant explanations and further negotiations. There were only two occasions when access was problem-free because a staff accompanied the family member. A pass to collect at the Administrative office and return after the visit, was suggested by his wife. She was told that this was not possible at that time (weekend) which was understandable. However it was also not possible during the week-days, when she requested again.
Glen was good during the daytime mainly because he was monitored by family members who alerted the nurses when he signaled that his trach tube needed to be suctioned. His nights were very bad, he wrote that he got little attention a nights, and his condition warranted intermittent suctioning of the tube down his throat and constant monitoring. The doctors gave verbal reports on his progress and they were all positive hence he was removed from the ICU to the HDU (high dependence unit) and then to ward 8 within the 14 days. He protested about the moves implying that he wanted to remain in ICU. He complained every morning about the neglect during the nights and gave details that convinced his family members that there are a lot of persons in the helping professions who are clearly unsuitable, uncaring and downright careless when it comes to their duties within the profession.
Doctors and nurses are supposed to be caring and compassionate individuals, not only to their patients but also towards their family members. The entire atmosphere was cold, interactions with the majority of nurses were uncomfortable because they were perceived as being un-welcomed. On the day that Glen passed (20th), his condition drastically deteriorated overnight (Glen expressed and identified the said nurse who pulled his buzzer the previous night, who was on duty that night (19th) incidentally. That morning death appeared to be inevitable. One family member did not hesitate to express to two of the doctors and other staff that "it felt like Glen was treated by, and we were dealing with doctors and nurses who functioned like machines or robots." There were only a few persons who can be counted on one hand, who operated like genuine professional care givers.
If Glen’s passing was inevitable from the beginning, family members felt that he should have been treated with the level of respect and care that he deserved. We can never be certain that he would not have survived had he been attended to by a neurosurgeon and been treated with the level of attention that his condition warranted. We can never be certain that he might not have been heart-broken by the treatment and gave up after giving it his best shot. This is the kind of man Glen was, always giving it his all, dedicated, dependable, resourceful, and hard working. We know that his colleagues at SWRHA and all the other public service organisations over the forty (40) years that he served, know this to be the truth about him. Glen worked with love and commitment. His duties included projecting, restoring and maintaining a positive image for SWRHA, which he was instrumental in achieving over the period that he was contracted.
Glen is gone and will be profoundly missed. If this article serves to do nothing else, but to alert all health care professionals at all levels to recognise that they, of all others need to be more kind, conscious and caring in their treatment of patients; they need to give a little love in the execution of their duties, their bottom line is to treat others as they would like to be treated. It demonstrates also that there is a serious need for a more effective recruitment protocol of professionals in this field, that would assesses attitude to duties and personality dimensions that are crucial to all in the helping profession".
NB - Chief executive officer of the SWRHA Anil Gosine told the Express that Glod was treated to the best of the hospital's ability. He said, " They(hospital staff) have done everything possible for Glen. He got all the medical care and the nurses' care was very good. If he needed neurosurgery, we would have made sure that he would gotten it."
THE BRAIN DOCTOR PROBLEM
IN July and August of this year, 37 patients at the San Fernando General Hospital in need of urgent brain and spinal surgery, were referred to hospitals in north Trinidad.
And for the past six months, approximately 60 persons have been scheduled to have surgeries performed at those institutions with an average of eight to 10 persons each month having an appointment for nuerosurgery.
Whether or not those person have been properly treated or are still waiting to be treated is unknown to hospital staff at the San Fernando General Hospital, which has operated without a full time neurosurgeon for the past five years.
Efforts by the South West Regional Health Authority to find specialist to work at the hospital, have failed.
The job in the public service offers a specialist neurosurgeon $30,000 a month. A neorusurgeon at a private hospital can work for ten times that amount. The Port-of-Spain General Hospital and the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (Mt.Hope) are the only two public health institutions that offer nuerosurgical care.
Both the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) and the Ministry of Health have been trying in vain to get nuerosurgeons advertising nationally, regionally and internationally.
A senior hospital official said that the reason why the hospital does not know if people accessing care at the San Fernando General Hospital were properly treated at the northern hospitals, was because once referred, the medical record keeping becomes a matter for that hospital.
The official said most patients were sent to Port-of-Spain General Hospital because " they have the more experienced doctors."
If for whatever reason the Port-of-Spain General Hospital could not accommodate the patient, the patient would be sent to Mt Hope.
The hospital official said, "Once a person was referred to those medical institutions the San Fernando General Hospital would no longer be responsible for the patient. We would not get any feedback from the patient. They would be dealing one to one with Port-of-Spain or Mt.Hope. We don't have a nuerosurgeon in San Fernando so they would not come back to us. There is nobody to come back to."