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The recently opened Point Fortin Hospital has been redesignated as a COVID-19 management facility but residents within the nearby community said they would now be inconvenienced.

The South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) said in a release yesterday that those who “require Emergency Services (Accident & Emergency) are requested to visit the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) or Siparia District Health Facility (SDHF) Emergency Departments.”

It said all patients at the facility will be transferred to the San Fernando General Hospital while the area hospital remains a COVID-19 step-down facility.

Because of the change, it said the Point Fortin Health Centre service hours have been extended to 8 am to 8 pm daily and would continue vaccinations based on appointments.

The hospital was opened in July 2020 with a bed capacity of 100. However, with both hospitals now being out of commission for those in Trinidad’s South Western peninsula, some are upset.

“They now build the hospital for people who like Cedros…all these places and them converting that to the COVID hospital,” Point Fortin resident Steadman Jeffrey told Guardian Media during a visit to the area yesterday.

“You have the new hospital (for) COVID and then they having the old hospital they say is (for) COVID too. What go happen to we if I have a headache or my foot get broken…which part we have to go? Up San Fernando? And then when we call they ain’t have no ambulance? It kind of disgusting.”

His neighbour, Lester Odith had a similar concern.

“I don’t know why they do this. I find they shouldn’t close it down. They should keep it how it running before because it have old people outside here getting sick and how (at) that age they going to travel to Sando to go Sando hospital?” he said.

“Sando hospital ain’t ram-cram too?”

But some believed the inconvenience was necessary like La Brea resident Sharon Dillon.

“If they have to turn it into the COVID hospital well they have to treat the patients and get them better and get them well,” she said.

Another La Brea resident, John Frederick, visited the hospital to collect the results of a scan while Guardian Media was there.

However, he was turned away by security on the site because of the changeover.

When asked how he felt about the conversion he said: “That’s the price for our complacency. It’s sad that this new facility had to be transferred for COVID. But I mean, it’s necessary. It’s a result of our slackness.”