24/7 Medical Service is benefitting our island community greatly

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

It’s been three months since the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II expanded its service to become a 24-hour medical facility. The facility has tended to hundreds of islanders and visitors in need of emergency care during the late night hours, and has even saved the lives of a couple of shooting victims. The service was launched on Monday, February 2nd after Area Representative, Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr., through the Ministry of Health, allocated funds needed to sustain the service long term.24 Hour Service PolyClinic-2
Due to the polyclinic being understaffed, the 24-hour service started off as for critical emergencies only; but as the months progressed and new staff was deployed to San Pedro, the clinic started offering a full scale of medical services. “Before we had in mind that it was only going to be 24/7 emergency care since we did not have sufficient staff to cover both day and night shifts. We needed more staff in order to offer 24-hour medical service,” said Clinic Administrator, Owen Vellos. The Ministry of Health has been assigning more staff to the clinic, which is now capable of sustaining the 24-hour medical service. “Right now we treat any patient that comes at any time of the day, whether it be flu, broken bone or a serious injury. Currently we have one doctor, two nurses, one attendant, one driver and one security guard working every night shift. We also have an additional doctor on stand-by in case there is more than one patient that needs to be treated immediately,” said Vellos.

The area designated as the emergency facility contains two beds and equipment for treating trauma, and child delivery among other medical services. In addition, an emergency entrance was opened at the north side of the building to be used when the main entrance is closed after normal working hours. This initially caused much confusion, as patients were not properly informed of the different entrances. “Our regular operating hours are from 7PM to 8PM. We close the main entrance at 8PM, and then open the emergency entrance. There was confusion, because people used to pass the clinic and see the front door closed. But we were not closed. It is just that the other entrance was being used. People failed to see the signs pointing out the direction of the emergency service. We have since been informing all patients about the emergency entrance and are not having that many problems anymore,” Vellos said.

The reason the front door is closed is due to safety. The clinic does not have sufficient staff to fully man the clinic both day and night. “We are still not at the level to operate the entire clinic for 24 hours. After the normal working hours, we close down the majority of the clinic and only leave open the area assigned for emergencies. If the front door would be open, we wouldn’t be able to monitor everyone coming in and out since the emergency facility is at the back of the clinic. That’s why we opened the new entrance so that every patient that comes in can be immediately greeted and given the treatment they require,” said Vellos.

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With the clinic offering services for 24 hours, the community can certainly feel more at ease. All services offered at the polyclinic are free of cost, except for X-rays which carry a $25 charge, and lab work. “We are here to serve the community, so services are offered for free whether it’s day or night. We do charge a $25 fee for X-ray but this is mainly to maintain the equipment and stock of film used. We have an X-ray technician working in the morning and on call at night in case of emergencies. We also have one more X-ray technician in training in Belmopan that will soon be sent to San Pedro,” said Vellos.

Vellos encourages everyone in need of medical attention to visit the polyclinic, as early diagnosis and treatment can prevent further complications. The Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic can be reached at 226-2536 during normal working hours (7AM-8PM) or at 660-2871 for after hour service.

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