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HomeNewsLocal NewsDr Patrick Martin shares grim realities of caring for bullet wounded patients

Dr Patrick Martin shares grim realities of caring for bullet wounded patients

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by Eulana Weekes

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Dr. Patrick Martin, former Chief Medical Officer and Advisor for the National Health Insurance, was recently engaged by the media to discuss, “Violence and Crime as a Public Health Issue.”

Dr. Martin says the government spends about $10,000 each day to keep the JNF General Hospital and the Alexandra Hospital open, but the treatment for an individual injured by a gunshot can cost the taxpayers much more than the daily operational costs of these facilities.

“The cost for one hour exceeds the cost for keeping the hospital open for a day.” Martin stated.

He added “[For] one gunshot- EMT mobilisation that’s the vehicle cost, wear and tear and two to three workers; back to base, whether Alexandra Hospital or JNF (Joseph N France General Hospital) where you have a doctor on duty, three nurses of various categories, clerks, support staff, cleaners; You have [to call in specialists for] X-ray, Ultrasound, CT Scans, Labs; if you need blood, the Blood Bank. Meanwhile,in the Emergency room, you have a tube down the trachea keeping their breathing going, IV’s going to keep their blood volume up. If the person goes into Cardiac arrest, you have defibrillators or you do some chest compression; That’s ten thousand plus in that golden hour.”

Additionally, if the individual survives and requires surgery, he or she may be referred to the surgical ward or the Intensive Care Unit afterwards; which also brings additional costs, to be covered by the ‘public’s purse’.

Dr. Martin explained that while working assiduously to save lives, health professionals have experienced some scary situations.

“By the way, we have cases where the guy- it is usually a guy, preparing the guy for surgery, taking off his clothes and a gun falls out.” [Can] you imagine how scary that is?” They are on the operating table and out pops a mac or whatever they are using now; and you say, “Oh, I know this guy, here’s a bullet from three years ago. We have had guys come to the hospital three to four times and don’t pay.”

Dr. Martin recalled times where people complained about the length of time that an ambulance takes before arriving at a scene; but according to the doctor, the policy is that an ambulance should not go into an unsecured zone. This, in and of itself, compounded by the injury can cause an unfortunate situation for the individual.

“Sometimes people complain that the ambulance didn’t get there quick enough, but by time you call 911 (The ambulance should not go into a hot zone) [because] the zone is supposed to be secured by the police. So, by time the ambulance gets there, it’s more than five minutes and if the person is shot in strategic areas of the body, they’ll bleed out; and it’s my experience that the shooting has become very precise. The shooting of the 1990’s was a bit of scattered shots. Today, execution style. Whereas the 90’s… you could see a trail of blood going up to the hospital and people following the ambulance. Sorry to say, sorry to sound so cold, but people are being killed on the streets, because people have been practising and there are some high powered devices.”

The 16 brutal homicides during the first half of 2023, include 14 who were killed by the gun; some during broad daylight.

Dr. Martin mentioned that crime and violence have a great impact on the general economy. Millions of dollars, he said, are used each year to take care of gunshot patients, which can be used to fund other healthcare initiatives, education and social programmes. The cost, he said, is also measured in the cost of young people from productive life.

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