Shirmattie Lochan watches her father every day as he struggles to walk, writhing in pain with each step.
Often he collapses and most days getting out of bed and even going to the toilet is a frustrating chore.
With her brothers living far away, caring for her father rests squarely on Lochan’s shoulders.
During a tearful interview with Guardian Media, Lochan said she has been begging for her father Harold Lochan, 69, to have knee replacement surgery since last year.
But with COVID-19, elective surgeries at the San Fernando General Hospital have slowed down considerably.
Lochan says the doctors at the hospital were only doing emergency surgeries and even though an elective surgery was scheduled, it never materialized.
Giving a synopsis of her father’s condition, Lochan said he first started experiencing extreme pain last year but it was only in July this year that he was admitted to the outpatient clinic.
“Because of the condition of both knees, they booked him for surgery on November 3 2020,” Lochan said.
However, this date passed and Lochan was told elective surgeries were on hold.
Since then, Harry’s condition has deteriorated.
“He can’t even walk to go to the bathroom or toilet. I am the only one taking care of him. Dad can’t even reach the toilet on time when he has to go. It is tough because he is also a heart patient,” she said.
She added, “ I spoke to his doctors who said all elective surgeries are on hold. They saying they can do nothing at the moment and also that a waiting period for a knee replacement in the clinic is about two years. It is frustrating because right now my dad cannot walk at all right on his own,” she added.
As a former Caroni worker, Lochan said her father worked tirelessly in his youth, paying taxes and now that he was in his golden years, he was suffering.
“He is not supposed to be under any stress. He has a stent in his chest due to his heart attack recently and the heart doctors gave the go-ahead to do the knee replacement,” Lochan added.
She called on Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh to look into the matter as to why elective surgeries are not being done.
“I am begging the Ministry of Health to step in and help my dad, please! If they can do the right knee for now, later we can see about this left knee. The pain is unbearable on his right knee, please I am begging you,” Lochan pleaded.
Contacted for comment chief executive officer of the Southwest Regional Health Authority Dr Brian Armour denied that all elective surgeries at SFGH were on hold.
“Elective surgeries are being done. It is constrained because of the resources in the regular and the COVID facilities but we do maintain elective surgeries for people who are relatively urgent. We call it urgent electives and now because of the situation with COVID and how it is being managed, from December 1 we have resumed face to face clinic services for surgical services,” Armour said.
He added that hospital officials were looking at resuming surgeries at full normal levels.
Armour added, “I am aware that we were postponing some elective surgeries but we are in a better position now to increase our throughput. The key message is we never stopped, we curtailed and we are getting back to an improved output of the elective surgeries. We are trying our best.”
He could not say what was the length of the waiting list but he said they were aiming to get back to the pre-COVID state.
Armour promised to look into Lochan’s case and render assistance as needed.