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No radiologist at Northern Regional Hospital

A major hospital that does not have its own ultrasound machine is not something expecting mothers would like to hear. When news broke that the Northern Regional Hospital (NRH) was in that predicament, the hospital’s authorities were quick to schedule a tour of the hospital to show us that their ultrasound machine is in fact in tip-top condition. Love News Reporter, Courtney Menzies, found out that while they do have the ultrasound machine, what they lack is a radiologist on staff.

Last week Love News brought you shocking news from the Northern Regional Hospital located in Orange Walk. Human Rights Activist Elisa Castellanos revealed to the public that the hospital actually has no ultrasound machine. Additionally, the patients in the maternity ward were being mistreated by the nurses. Today Love News was invited on an exclusive tour of the hospital so that they can show us that yes they actually have an ultrasound machine, equipped with a technician that is here from Monday to Friday and in case of emergencies.

Dr.Manuel Estrada, Medical Chief of Staff: “We have had this ultrasound machine for the past couple of years and it has been fully functional, it has not given any problem. We have a technician who works here from Monday to Friday, 8-4 pm and also on call for emergency cases.”

Reporter: Was there any point that the machine wasn’t working for a day or a couple of hours?

Dr.Manuel Estrada, Medical Chief of Staff: “No, the machine has been fully functional and hasn’t given any problem.”

Reporter: Is it ever so full that patients have to wait hours before getting an ultrasound?

Dr.Manuel Estrada, Medical Chief of Staff: “Usually it goes by appointment so the line would not be that big, patients would have an appointment as to times scheduled to have an ultrasound.”

According to Doctor Estrada there have been 450 ultrasounds done so far for 2019. The earlier months had seen less than 30 ultrasound patients but as of April, May, and June they had skyrocketed to over 100 patients per month. So why were there allegations of NRH not possessing a working ultrasound machine? We spoke to an Orange Walk resident who told us that the hospital has been sending pregnant women to get ultrasounds at private clinics.

Orange Walk Resident: “I had my daughter in law that gave birth five months ago, so she didn’t have the money to make the ultrasound at the hospital so they sent her to Asuncion, that is $125, three times to have the baby. So they sent her to Asuncion or another doctor I don’t recall her name because they don’t want the cheap one from Baker’s Street that is only $25, so they are giving two places that they need the ultrasound to go they are not sending to other places.”

Reporter: But are they sending them because of the money issue or because they don’t have an ultrasound or their ultrasound machine is not working?

Orange Walk Resident: “ I know the hospital doesn’t have an ultrasound working.”

Reporter: So that’s been ongoing for years you say?

Orange Walk Resident:  “I have had four babies already and the four of them I did my ultrasound outside, never done it in the hospital before.” 

Reporter: And you don’t know anyone who has done an ultrasound in there?

Orange Walk Resident: “Since I know, no everybody is doing outside ultrasound. My boss, she went to do an ultrasound here on Baker Street that is only $75 so she went with that ultrasound to the hospital and the doctor saw it and everything and sent her back to do another ultrasound telling her that he doesn’t want it from that one, that she wanted it from Assuncion or another female doctor that does it too.”

Of course, sending patients to have ultrasounds at private clinics would raise many questions and the answers to those questions NRH has no radiologist on their staff, only an ultrasound technician. As it turns out a few more years of specialization makes a big difference as the technician can only do so much compared to a radiologist. Doctor Estrada explained to us that there are only three radiologists in Orange Walk and of the three they try to refer patients to the cheapest one which is close to if not more than a hundred dollars. Still, these are only suggestions and patients can choose to get their ultrasounds from anywhere in our outside of the country as long as it is from a radiologist and not an ultrasound technician. Doctor Estrada also denounced allegations that the hospital is collective commissions from the private clinics saying that they are in no way affiliated with the clinics.

Later in the newscast, we’ll tell you more about the tour of the hospital.