Tensions rose at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital this morning, as scores of patients were denied access to their outpatient clinics.

When Guardian Media visited the hospital, security guards wearing face masks stood at the hospital’s main entrance, screening for people who could enter the building along Chancery Lane. Patients were told that all clinics were cancelled today and that they could either wait four hours for assistance or return home and wait for a phone call. This angered many of the outpatients who crammed the entrance, waiting for answers. Those who had tests and scans were allowed to go inside while visitors were told to get passes at the San Fernando General Hospital.

“They take your card and they’re telling you that they have it here. We can either wait four hours or go home and wait for them to call us. That is not making sense at all,” Toolsie Ganga said.

Ganga said many cardiac patients need to get their prescriptions filled every six months. These prescriptions cannot be filled in regular pharmacies. From as early as 7 am, scores of outpatients gathered outside the hospital, but by 9 am, most of them left.

Many outpatients told Guardian Media, while they understand that precautionary measures are needed to combat the spread of the COVID-19, proper communication could have avoided this morning’s issues.

“They’re taking precautions and we understand that but I think this situation could have been handled differently. When you give them your card, they have to go back into the system to check. They could have checked the system and call us before or the Minister (of Health) could have made a public announcement that the clinics would be closed.

“They’re telling you don’t mingle with crowds but when you do that, everyone is crowding here this morning,” another patient said.

This patient said he underwent heart surgery last year and he needs to access the clinic as part of his recovery process. He last saw doctors in September 2019.

Calls to South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) CEO, Dr Brian Armour were not answered.

There was some confusion as an SWRHA official said all outpatient clinics were in place, while nurses said eye, heart and child clinics were suspended for three weeks.

The SWRHA is expected to issue a statement today.