Patients line up outside the Oncology Department of the San Fernando General Hospital. (Image: KRISTIAN DE SILVA)
RADHICA DE SILVA
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Scores of people lined up outside the Oncology Department of the San Fernando General Hospital on Thursday after a rat snake slithered inside the facility giving both patients and staff a good scare.

But by the time the Forestry Division arrived, the snake was nowhere to be seen. From 7 am to 11 am, patients stood outside waiting to get chemotherapy. Many of them were elderly cancer patients. Those who needed prescriptions for cancer drugs also had to wait.

When Guardian Media arrived at the scene, many of the patients expressed frustration.

Judy Bernard said, “I heard there is a rat snake and if the staff in there, I don’t see why the patients couldn’t go in. I’m tired.  It’s two to three hours I’m standing out here. I have been out since 7 o’clock,” she said.

Another patient, Carol Nagnapen, said she did not see what all the fuss was about.

” They say a snake in the building there, so they are not seeing any patients just yet,” Nagnapen said.

She added, “I came here at half-past eight this morning but there are other people who waiting since seven. They are not seeing any chemotherapy patients. Once it’s chemo, nothing is being done. You’re getting through with a prescription but nothing else.”

An elderly woman who was standing said she did not know what was going on.

“They did not tell me anything. I am waiting for a few hours now. They just leave us out here and we’re waiting,” she whispered.

She said she had a little headache after the long wait, but she had no choice but to wait.

A source at the facility said the snake was never found but full services resumed at 11 am after the Forestry Division declared the facility safe for occupation.

Contacted for comment, communications manager at the SWRHA, Kevon Gervais, said while there has been no substantiation report of the reptile, SWRHA acknowledges there was a delayed customer experience at the Oncology Department.

“As a matter of extreme caution, a cross-functional team, including Hospital Administration & HSE attended. Following the extensive search, patients with appointments were swiftly processed,” Gervais said.