As the Ministry of Health and Wellness prepares to launch the 24-hour polyclinic service at two of the island’s polyclinics on Saturday, June 1, the public is reminded that the primary focus of the evening and night-time service will be urgent care.
The polyclinic at the David Thompson Health and Social Services Complex, Glebe Land, St. John and the Winston Scott Polyclinic at Jemmotts Lane, St. Michael, will both be opened to the public on a round-the-clock basis, beginning this Saturday, from 8:00 a.m.
Medical Officer of Health at the David Thompson Health and Social Services Complex, Dr. Omar Edwards, explained that the initiative was designed to deliver a key aspect of medical care.
“That category of care will be urgent care. Urgent care lies in the spectrum between what we consider to be emergency care and what we consider to be routine preventative medical care.
“Urgent care, by definition, would be medical care seeking to address complaints that while not emergencies, meaning while they are not life-threatening, limb-threatening or threatening to a person’s vision, however require prompt medical attention for a good outcome, ideally within a period of a few hours,” he explained.
He gave as examples injuries from falls, minor cuts, moderate breathing difficulties such as exacerbation of asthma, fevers, symptomatic infections, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration.
Dr. Edwards however advised that in the event of “a true emergency”, for example, gunshot wounds, deep knife wounds, severe chest pains and strokes, these must be dealt with at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The Medical Officer of Health at the David Thompson Health and Social Services Complex also disclosed that that facility was enhancing its urgent care capabilities by introducing point of care testing for certain key investigations.
“While we will still have our blood sugar testing and blood pressure monitoring ongoing, we are also looking at providing point of care testing for certain cardiac enzymes.
“Point of care diagnostics deal with information that can be gathered from a finger prick blood test, similar to how a person would test their blood sugar at home. So with the same finger stick analysis we are looking to test for certain key enzymes that might show damage to the heart such as cardiac enzymes.”
While reiterating that the urgent care service will deal primarily with urgent walk-in complaints, Dr. Edwards cautioned patients to keep their regular scheduled appointments with their polyclinic doctors, take their medication and comply with medical advice, to avoid creating their own medical emergency or urgency due to a lack of compliance.