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No straight answer to why ER patients shuffled to outside tent

[photo: BC]

This past weekend, Samoa News visited the LBJ Medical Center in Fagaalu and watched as some patients — several of them with IVs intact - were walking out of the Emergency Room, heading out to the section of the parking lot where emergency vehicles (ambulance) generally park when transporting a patient in need of immediate assistance. (The area just outside the ER side entrance).

Samoa News asked around and discovered that because there were no more beds in the ER, some patients were being moved to a white tent (pictured) outside the facility to wait until they were given the green light to go home. Waiting patients usually are on IV and it takes up to 1- 2 hours to generally allow the IV to complete its drip bag.

A senior nurse indicated that the overcrowding of the ER recently — due to children being diagnosed with fever and pneumonia — has prompted hospital officials to utilize the tent as an area to house some of the patients.

Another hospital employee claimed that some of the patients in the tent were suspected of having dengue fever and therefore, they were put out there to 'isolate' them from others.

This led to one concerned parent asking, "How logical is it to have someone with dengue fever outside where mosquitoes are prone to bite them — again? Isn't that what causes dengue fever in the first place?"

Another local resident commented, "This is very unsanitary. The tent is outside, where it is hot, humid, and can cause more damage to already sick people."

Efforts by Samoa News to obtain an official explanation from LBJ Hospital management were unsuccessful as of press time.

A senior nurse did tell Samoa News that because one of the areas near the ER is currently under construction, spaces that could be used by patients are being cordoned off, hence the limited space in the ER.

Meanwhile, caretakers at the hospital said the ER has been jam-packed for several weeks now, as many young children are coming in with symptoms of pneumonia and other ailments including vomiting, fever, and diarrhea.

One nurse told Samoa News there's nothing much they can do, as the problem goes beyond limited space. She said they are having to work 12-hour shifts because of the shortage of nurses.

Samoa News saw also saw last week the overcrowding, first hand, with several patients with IVs attached, sitting outside in the ER waiting room right along with those waiting to see a doctor.

One of the waiting people told Samoa News she had been waiting for 5 hours to see a doctor.