Pregnant women using chairs as beds

October 16, 2019

A shortage of bed space at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH) in Kingston has led to some patients sleeping on chairs, even as they endure labour pain.

Mary*, who is in her third trimester, told THE STAR yesterday that she has been at the hospital since Monday night, waiting to see a doctor.

She said that even though her due date had not yet arrived, she checked herself in because she was vomiting blood.

"This come een like a slackness. From mi come in last night (Monday night) after nine, a the first the nurse look back pan mi this (yesterday) morning. See all a the lady dem siddung deh, a deh so dem sleep last night," she said referring to four women close to her on chairs.

When THE STAR visited the hospital yesterday, women with newborns were seen sitting on chairs nursing, while others had their babies in incubators awaiting beds.

According to one mother, who was due to give birth yesterday, she was admitted to the facility sometime after 10 p.m. on Monday, but was yet to get a bed.

"The first time nurse see me, she said I was dilated three centimetres and then another nurse saw me and seh mi dilated two centimetres; then supm nuh must wrong? Mi deh yah inna pain from last night and me belly feel so stiff," she said, adding that this is her first child.

Another woman said that her water broke on Monday night but up to 11:30 a.m. yesterday, there was no available bed.

"They said that the doctor supposed to come and discharge some of the persons on beds but up to now the doctor is not here," she said.

Carmen Johnson, president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, said hospital beds tend to be filled with expectant mothers this time of the year.

'crop season'

"Unlike the other months where you will see probably 10 deliveries per day, within the 'crop season', you can see probably 20 to 30 deliveries per day," she said.

The crop season refers to the period from September to February where more women are giving birth because of increased copulation during the 'winter' months (like December) and during the carnival season (March/April). She said the increased numbers put added pressure on the nurses and the resources at institutions.

While not speaking specifically to VJH, she said that she was aware of expecting mothers sleeping on chairs and that may be due to a number of varying factors.

"Every institution that you go to, you are going to find that there is an overflow of patients in the accident and emergency department. For those like Jubilee that don't have an accident and emergency department but an admissions area, you are going to find that patients are there waiting on an available bed in any one of the wards on any given time," she said.

She said that while the occupied beds should be monitored, precautions need to be taken because moving a patient may cause implications.

"One of the things that I know we look at are mothers who have normal deliveries. They would send home that mother within 12 hours, but there are situations where you have more persons than resources," she said. "We look for those mothers who are stable and then we switch to ensure that the one who is in immediate post op can at least lay down to recover and ensure the bleeding settles down to a normal level, blood pressure and pulse down to a normal rate. But again you may think that one is stable and you move the person to put another but the minute the person is moved, they become unstable."

Repeated attempts to reach the CEO of VJH for a comment proved unsuccesful.

* Name Changed

*name changed

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