Health officials battle surgery crisis in the north

By Benjamin Flowers

The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority (KHMHA) has gone on record to say that it has not rejected any referral surgeries from the Northern Regional Hospital despite claims it has, during an equipment issue that rendered the NRH unable to perform surgeries requiring anesthesia.

The KHMHA emphasized on Thursday that, as the national referral hospital, it hasn’t rejected any referral patients but may have to suspend elective (non-emergency) surgeries, in the event that the increased in workload continues.

Sources tell the Reporter that the issue arose when the oxygen centers for anesthesia machines stopped working. The oxygen centers are not available for purchase in Belize, which delayed the ministry’s response to the issue. The information also suggests that the oxygen centers should be replaced every six months to a year, but in this instance, the centers have not been replaced in two years.

Sources also said that in just one week, more than 50 surgeries scheduled at the NRH were cancelled after they could not get assistance due to the number of surgical cases being handled at the KHMH. The situation caused a strain on the staff of the NRH, given the various pregnant women who were awaiting a c-section.

Reports are that the midwife staff at the NRH cannot cope with the workload, so doctors have taken on additional nursing duties to assist with the immense workload.

The Ministry of Health issued a statement on Thursday, acknowledging that the situation will cause disruptions in the daily delivery of services, but that it is making every effort to resolve the issue promptly.

“Other Regional Teams are also being asked to ensure adequate coverage, particularly over this coming weekend, so that KHMHA is able to adequately cater to the expected patient load which is usually associated with carnival and September celebrations,” the MOH said.

In July the NRH had received a new operating theater and renovations totaling some $500,000, according to the MOH

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