Doctors are expressing concern for their elderly patients, in particular, who are unable to access lab services at the Mount St. John Medical Centre (MSJMC) due to staff shortages.
A physician tells REAL News the COVID-19 situation has affected not only house doctors at MSJMC, but lab technicians who usually administer the standard tests for which they refer patitents.
As a consequence, patients who are not able to wait for lab and radiology services at the hospital are forced to use private facilities – often at a much higher cost.
“This is simply not right,” the doctor tells our News Room. “Our patients have contributed to the Medical Benefits Scheme for years, and they are entitled to have these services done at the public hospital. At this stage of their lives, where are they to find money to pay for these tests?”
Of even greater concern to the doctors, however, is that patients who cannot afford the private services are simply not having their tests done, at all.
“This has potentially fatal consequences,” the doctor says. “This could be making a bad situation much worse, or a serious condition might go undetected for too long,” the physician explains.
Meanwhile, a pensioner complains to REAL News that, “up to this good morning, March 24,” he had not yet received his Social Security payment for February.
The man, who is a diabetic, asks how the Government expects retired people to take care of themselves in these circumstances.
“How we to buy food? How we to buy medicine? We have bills to pay. If you don’t have good family in Antigua, is dead you dead! This split-payment thing is not working!” he declares.
The man is referring to what the Social Security Scheme, only last month, touted as a “fix” for its ongoing late payments. Under the new system, pensions are to be delivered in two tranches, with the second being paid no later than the 15th day of the next month.
But this certainly has not been the case for many seniors in March.
“By the time the money come, we confused as to which payment it is. I bet you they’re hoping we just forget,” the man goes on.
“But they don’t care, because they done rake out their money at month-end,” he concludes.