Dear Editor,

For the past three Fridays (Mar 9,16, 23, 2012) since the LBJ Medical Center clinics were ordered to shut down on those days, the Emergency Room has been experiencing many unnecessary hardships. The ER is trying to handle their own workload of ambulance patients, acute medical illnesses and walk-in injuries that fluctuate according to human nature.

Now the ER is forced to accommodate the full brunt from the Friday Pediatric Clinic, Medical Clinic, Surgical Clinic, OB/Gyn, Dental, ENT and Eye clinic loads.  The over crowded waiting room, which is under full swing construction, unmindful of the patient traffic, is overflowing the limited capacity of the ER. The patients and care providers are juggling for space and medical attention. Adding to the anger, frustration, threatening and abusive attitudes, is the staff trying to triage the multitude of patients according to their needs.

The OB/Gyn patients heavy with advanced pregnancy waiting to be triaged, are crammed in a row in the surgical area. They are facing bedridden patients and competing for space with surgical patients and inmates from Tafuna Correctional Facility. The hallway cubicles are overrun by screaming babies, children and adults receiving oxygen therapy, care providers and unattended children by angry parents.

The constant disturbance for sick patients with nonstop traffic of the curious and onlookers has stripped them of any dignity or decency. Their right to confidentiality and privacy has been violated exposing their weakened medical condition. Every sound and word that is discussed between Doctor and patient is heard behind closed curtains by everyone within hearing distance.

The condition of the mass of humanity in the ER is sad. The stench of body odor, vomiting and diarrhea are competing with the stench of bloody stool, decaying wounds, spilled urine and dirty diapers not to mention the constant use of the one and only toilet in the ER by the public.

The moaning, groaning, retching and occasional screams from patients in pain are muffled by the traffic of disgruntled patients, family members and gossipers. Not even the security guards want to deal with the crowds and control or redirect the foot traffic.

Where is the ER staff at this point? A majority feels suppressed and is hamstrung in this cluster of unorganized, out of control situation they are forced to endure and fix while trying to save Life, Limb and Sight. There is no place they can dodge the rude, angry and confrontational masses demanding medical attention from the 4-hour backlog.

Even their concerns are ignored by the (QA) Quality Assurance and Infection Control Officer that roamed in to make sure the disposables were properly disposed.

Why are our people subjected to this unbelievable lack of professional consideration? Every Nursing Service Policy and Procedure on Privacy, Confidentiality, Infection Control, Isolation, Safety hazard, Fire hazard and the dreaded (HIPAA) Health, Information, Portability, Accountability Act, is being knowingly violated by the LBJ Hospital Authority.

Where are the Chief Medical Officer, the Dir. of Nursing and her staff of Care Coordinators? Where are the CEO, CFO and Hospital Board?? Why are these conditions forced on the community?

 Instead of closing the Friday clinics, why not close half a day on Thursday and Friday. At least the bulk of patients will be taken care of during the morning hours rather than over flood the Emergency Room under atrocious conditions just to prove a point?

Don’t get me wrong; sending more doctors or nurses to help is like slime going through a large bore sieve. On Fridays the ER has gone way beyond its maximum capacity. Stuffing it with more professionals is just choking the ER to death.

After the long battle over the LBJ blaming, defense and finger pointing over their financial situation, the current LBJ attempts to rectify its problems have taken us back to the caves or sold down the river by a complacent team of LBJ leaders.

 Hopefully LBJ will formally inform and warn the public again of the Friday closures.

Ipu Avegalio Lefiti


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